Kasia Broussalian
The Park Mesa Apartments, on Lashley Lane in Boulder, are among those owned by Rahe Property Management, which illegally subdivided larger apartments into smaller units, leaving the tenants without addresses and ultimately leading to a city investigation into the company’s practices.

Boulder building officials say they have the post office to thank for the discovery of dozens of illegally built apartments in town.

The violations were discovered when tenants who’d moved in to several brand-new apartment units owned by Rahe Property Management in Boulder last year realized they weren’t receiving mail. They complained to the U.S. Postal Service.

City officials say the answer was simple: Those apartment units didn’t have mailboxes, because they weren’t real addresses.

“One of our enforcement officers went out and found all of these violations,” said Neil Poulsen, the city’s chief building official. “These units were added onto units … . They’d take a three-bedroom apartment, turn it into three or four units.”

And the practice wasn’t been limited to one or two apartments, officials said, but extended across several complexes owned by Rahe Property Management throughout the city.

An investigation “revealed that building permits had not been issued for the extensive renovations to at least 36 apartment units and that no land use review had been undertaken by the city to permit the increase in density in the apartment buildings,” according to a memo from City Attorney Jerry Gordon to the Boulder City Council.

The owner of the property management company said he’s cooperating with the city to fix the apartments and has agreed to pay tens of thousands in fines.

Poulsen said the work was done without consulting with city departments to find out whether the new apartments would fit zoning rules. Just as important, the city requires new units to follow building codes intended to keep tenants safe — such as fire-safety rules.

After the city got involved, Rahe Property Management agreed to plead “no contest” to 30 charges of building without a permit and 30 charges of violating the city’s intensity standards — that is, having too many apartments in too little space.

Rahe also agreed to $90,000 in penalties. The company will be required to pay $50,000 in installments to the city’s municipal court. The remaining $40,000 will be suspended if city officials are satisfied that Rahe’s employees have undone the new construction or brought the apartments up to code.

Poulsen, the chief building official, said those inspections will happen this week.

Charles Rahe, who heads the property management company, said his company’s apartments are among “the higher quality rentals” in Boulder.

“The city’s case was based on a disputed interpretation about what was allowed under the complex and sometimes conflicting zoning code,” he said. “Rather than engage in a lengthy, expensive and unpredictable legal fight over this dispute, the company decided to resolve issues, pay a fine and is cooperating with the city going forward.”

Contact Camera Staff Writer Ryan Morgan at 303-473-1333 or morganr@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

There is one of these on west pearl-nearl pearl and fifth, two houses from the park. Some ugly yellow run down piece of crap house and the owner has five apartments in there-but only three mail boxes. Illegal apartments out the back. It’s the biggest slum on west pearl and needs to come down, with garbage and sofa’s all over the place, people running businesses out of it when it’s not zoned for commercial but the city does nothing. Slum lord that owns it charges about 1500 a month for the flats too-and they are sooooo ugly. I wonder what this guy did to piss off the city of boulder because usually they don’t do anything.

Flyonthewall

3/16/2009 9:16:52 PM

How much you want to bet 50-90k is a LOT less than permits and taps would have been? Rahe probably did this on purpose (why else would there be no mailboxes) and is reaping the benefits!

blacksho89@yahoo.com

3/16/2009 9:58:34 PM

“How much you want to bet 50-90k is a LOT less than permits and taps would have been?”

Violators are required to pay fines in addition to obtaining and paying for the evaded permits.

El_Guapo

3/16/2009 10:02:04 PM

Everyone knows this happens all over town, especially the Hill. Why is the City just now starting to pay attention? The City usually just ignores these violations in the name of affordable housing, but now that sales tax collections are down they must smell a new source of revenue.

WhosYourDaddy

3/16/2009 10:35:41 PM

“Boulder building officials say they have the post office to thank for the discovery of dozens of illegally built apartments in town.”

So if you take a 3 bedroom apt, add an interior wall, making it into a 2 bedroom and a 1 bedroom apt, how much has the building density increased ?

If you take an interior wall out of your 4 bedroom house, making it a 3 bedroom, have you decreased the density of the neighborhood?

El_Guapo

3/16/2009 11:15:25 PM

Dont forget the noise level El Guapo.Those walls are probadly paper thin.I went to there web site and pictures in no way look like the studio i have been in.

jester1cp@hotmail.com

3/17/2009 1:22:23 AM

Oh my gosh, not in perfect utopia peoples republic…. when is anyone going to wake up see the blatant misuse of taxpayers $$$$re: anything that has to do with bldg. permits, land use, codes, etc. etc. etc…..funny how all of the transplant yuppie, trustafarian jerkoffs have driven up prop. values on their cute little developements. Each with it’s own attached LLC to minimize any legal ramifications to them personally, while the rest of the tax payers of Bldr. continue to get bent over again and again as the dumb shinola city officials watch over the new boulder republic of idiots with money and 10 years of college……..sweeeet diversity!!lets dance in the streets for Obamas 59% approval- and not forget the real diversity of this nation that voted 49 % against him..

bison

3/17/2009 2:58:52 AM

Everyone knows this happens all over town, especially the Hill. Why is the City just now starting to pay attention?

Revenue

When revenue is not an issue the city inspectors look the other way when it comes to developers, builders, etc.

But when cash is tight look out.The Really guys will not be touched.

Boza and planning board.sweet.

thesurfrider

3/17/2009 5:17:59 AM

Thanks surf…I must be the only one that doesn’t know.Boy, do I feel stupid.

fardila@hotmail.com

3/17/2009 5:49:28 AM

“Violators are required to pay fines in addition to obtaining and paying for the evaded permits.”

Possibly true-IANAL-but the article does not state that, and, in fact, Charles Rahe makes no mention of permit fees “…the company decided to resolve issues, pay a fine and is cooperating with the city going forward.”

I think he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. He knew he’d never get permission to do this, so he went ahead anyway and then just “apologized later.

blacksho89@yahoo.com

3/17/2009 6:29:08 AM

Obama captured 53% of the popular vote – so there’s no way 49% “voted against him”.

As for land use rules etc – if you don’t like the rules a community has chosen to live by – choose a different community to live in.I’m quite happy someone has finally decided to go after these awful apartment conversions – the rules exist for many reasons, some of them involving safety.

connie@cozmic.com

3/17/2009 6:52:37 AM

greed…..

rbonilla

3/17/2009 7:41:16 AM

Looking forward to hearing that the (retroactive) permits to split units are denied and they’ll have to merge the units back.Else there’s no incentive (other than the minor fines) for this to happen again.

jim@guytons.net

3/17/2009 7:47:20 AM

but…I thought the City LOVED density !!….

make up your minds…sheesh.

JakPott

3/17/2009 7:49:40 AM

bison wrote: “and not forget the real diversity of this nation that voted 49 % against him..”

—–

well, as connie pointed out, you’re incorrect. But even if you were correct, it sounds like you supported Bush & Co who operated with a singular mandate with zero diversity, even among segments of their own party, and he actually had more people vote AGAINST him than for him – he lost the popular vote in 2000. So now you complain that Obama needs to show “real diversity”?

Besides, this is a story about unfettered capitalism and greed and is something that most Democrats believe should be better regulated.

UAN

3/17/2009 7:51:38 AM

I have seen a few places that have done this especially on the Hill. Places will they take 1500sf of space and turn it into 4-5 apartments literally.

At $650 mo a place x 4-5 = $2600-$3250 mo that’s a lot of money to be a Boulder slumlord.

sidd

3/17/2009 7:55:01 AM

This is a perfect example of the worst reporting by the Camera.It makes no attempt by the reporter to answer some of the obvious questions.

Who owns this company?Does he live in Boulder?

Where is the property, in terms readers can understand?

What is the history of this construction company?

How did they take a three bedroom apartment and convert it into three separate apartments? Did they add two more bathrooms and two more kitchens?

Did the reporter even visit the property?

This article was written by a reporter sitting at his desk with no interest in telling the story.No wonder the Daily Camera is such a crappy newspaper.

silliness@comcast.net

3/17/2009 7:55:23 AM

It isn’t a crime until you get caught….

The Post Modern credo.

captainendeavor@yahoo.com

3/17/2009 8:00:05 AM

I dealt with Rahe Property Management some few years back and am not surprised by this. They only seemed interested in making a quick profit at the expense of the students. They’re a bunch of unscrupulous goons who took every opportunity to screw over their tenants even after they leave by playing games with the deposits. Also, it is definitely not one of the finer or higher quality apartments in Boulder. The rooms are very small andsome of the apartments looked like shoe boxes! That is pure rubbish and no honest person would make such an assertion. I am surprised it took this long for the city to discover some of Rahe’s schemes.

Hopefully Charles Rahe has learned his lesson and I hope this will be a warning to any new potential tenants. Beware!

bobbyboulder

3/17/2009 8:24:09 AM

http://www.raherentals.com/

thesurfrider

3/17/2009 8:34:57 AM

“Charles Rahe, who heads the property management company, said his company’s apartments are among ‘the higher quality rentals’ in Boulder.”

That’s like Dick Cheney saying he’s got some great Guantanamo time shares.

snarlpup

3/17/2009 9:17:55 AM

What a complete moron.At minimum, his property management license should definitely be revoked.

burmck88

3/17/2009 9:25:37 AM

The number of single family homes being rented illegally would shock city officials.

These slumlords cram as many students as they can in these homes, none of which are up to code.

The next time those CU students crammed into the house across the street have a loud party or park up your street, just do the following: 1) check the city’s licensed rental property map. If it isn’t listed, then 2) check for the title holder on the Boulder County web site title search, and 3) then report them to the city.

And . . . if the city would offer a bounty (a percentage of the fines collected) for turning in illegal rentals, we could clean up the illegal rental situation in Boulder in no time.

snarlpup

3/17/2009 9:28:24 AM

There are also real estate brokers who would mark up rentfor a low income Family whereas the general public would have a discounted rate. Remax has one such person that I know of & he got away with almost $1,200. padding the deposit. Is there a legal time limit on reporting this kind of abuse & recouping losses? Does the county even care or does this go into the “if you don’t like it leave” catagory?

humanbeing2

3/17/2009 9:41:57 AM

That’s not the only unscrupulous landlord in Boulder.

Look around….they are everywhere. Corrupt Amerikans obsessed with making a few more bucks by screwing people over.

zedlepplin

3/17/2009 9:48:14 AM

In addition, this piece of sh!t gave $600 to Mike Huckabee & $200 to the RNC.

http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=name&lname=Rahe&fname=Charles

JesusThinksYoureAJerk

3/17/2009 9:41:37 AM

snarlpup – Great idea. Keep us posted on how many times you have to report the slumlord before (if) the City will do anything.

WhosYourDaddy

3/17/2009 10:06:08 AM

He should have his rental license revoked, or at least suspended pending the re-merging of these illegal units. I’m tired of people all over the city doing things the illegal way and then getting off the hook by paying some fines, and have the amount reduced. NO! You did this illegally, and so you should have to undo it, and then apply for the necessary permits.

What happens when there is no use review and codes enforced? People die. There were a couple of firefighters who lost their lives a few years back in NYC when they went into what was supposed to be a couple of apartments but had been separated into many apartments. They became disoriented and could not get out. Units were walled totally off from windows, no smoke detectors, etc.

But there are too many slumlords looking to make a buck at the expense of tenant and emergency worker safety.

moresmilesplease

3/17/2009 10:36:08 AM

Based on my personal experience, you have to notify the city about three times before they will do anything, and you have to follow up to confirm that they took action too.

snarlpup

3/17/2009 11:17:58 AM

If I recall, isn’t what Charles Rahe did punishable by up to a year in jail? If this kind of ongoing premeditated criminal enterprise doesn’t qualify for jail time, what does?

snarlpup

3/17/2009 11:20:34 AM

Maybe homeless people can go ahead now and convert North Boulder Park into a tent city . . .

Doc_Brinkley

3/17/2009 11:30:23 AM

“He knew he’d never get permission to do this, so he went ahead anyway and then just “apologized later.”

So you’re not one of those “free market” “property rights” libertarians?

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 12:11:00 PM

“I have seen a few places that have done this especially on the Hill. Places will they take 1500sf of space and turn it into 4-5 apartments literally.

At $650 mo a place x 4-5 = $2600-$3250 mo that’s a lot of money to be a Boulder slumlord.”

Is that a net revenue increase over simply renting the original larger space for the same $3250 ?

What is the mortgage payment to the bank on one of those hill properties purchased for $600k-$900k, with say 20% down payment?

How much $$ is left over after paying the mortgage and expenses?

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 12:13:57 PM

JesusThinksYoureAJerk wrote:

“In addition, this piece of sh!t gave $600 to Mike Huckabee & $200 to the RNC.”

That alone should get him burned at the stake.

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 12:16:32 PM

“They only seemed interested in making a quick profit at the expense of the students.”

LOL!

That’s how it works, skippy.

The tenants PAY $$ to the Landlord.

If you don’t like it, then buy your own condo and pay your $$ to the bank instead!

LOL!

Poor pitiful renters … always the victims of a cruel, cruel world. Woe is them …

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 12:19:39 PM

El_Guapo like I said it was some years ago.I own a house now in boulder so this is not a problem. The point is Rahe was far worse than the others who for the most part was quite reasonable. So the intention was to point out this specific experience with no ill will towards landlords in general.

bobbyboulder

3/17/2009 1:27:06 PM

“Violators are required to pay fines in addition to obtaining and paying for the evaded permits.”

That is not true.

Build an ADC without a building permit? Pay for a retro-active building permit and wave the fine.

Live in the ADC 9 months before renters permit…and before building complete? That’s ok, buy permit, pay no fine.

The solution?

Eliminate all on-the street overnight parking.

phoenix_rises

3/17/2009 1:41:17 PM

Who is forcing these bitter renters to live anywhere ?You think its too crowded or the place doesnt meet code…go somewhere else !Ask to see the rental license and City inspection report ! If you are concerned about safety…shop for a building with sprinklers !Discuss exactly what is required to get a full deposit back…

The general bashing of ‘slumlords’ is a huge pile of crap.As both a renter and and owner, I see both sides.If you think being a landlord is so great, let me tell you its not.You barely make the numbers work.You have to deal with animal house pigs who respect nothing.You must enjoy cleaning up other peoples and their dogs (usually not disclosed) feces (yes, even human).You get every story in the book why rent is late.The only recourse is one months deposit which barely covers the cabinets that have been torn off the wall, or the cat piss in the closet that ruined the carpet and often the subfloor.You need to enjoy getting calls that the pilot light is out or the refrigerator isnt cold enough….

Sure maybe you are the perfect renter, cleaned the place with a steam cleaner and didnt get your deposit back for whatever reason.Things happen.Not all renters are animal house pigs.Likewise, not all landlords are trying to extract every single cent out of the tenants.To the bitter renters, I suggest you shop around.

Better yet, there are 5 apartments for sale in Boulder under 110 grand.Put 10 grand down and buy the place and you will be building equity instead of tossing that money out each month.Best advice you will ever get, free, here on this blog.

JakPott

3/17/2009 1:55:20 PM

“The solution? Eliminate all on-the street overnight parking.”

YES! Including the daytime Downtown Business Core on-street parking!!

Yet that does *nothing* to address residential occupancy density.

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 3:07:11 PM

‘The solution? Eliminate all on-the street overnight parking.’

“Yet that does *nothing* to address residential occupancy density.”

Yes it does! It has been used successfully in any college towns. Driveways can’t hold that many cars and students do NOT want to live where they can not park their cars.

phoenix_rises

3/17/2009 9:00:04 PM

Back in the early ’90s, we had 13 people living – just in the 1st and 2nd floors, not the (finished) basement – living in a house at 10th & Pennsylvania owned by Herb Kauvar…with his blessing and knowledge.

zoom

3/17/2009 10:12:17 PM

“Yes it does! It has been used successfully in any college towns. “

Complete crap.

El_Guapo

3/17/2009 10:34:07 PM

This is what happens when the city buys all the real estate and leaves the people to live in ever smaller and more expensive houses and apartments.

rungreger

3/18/2009 5:39:21 PM

This is ABSURD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have lived in these apartments in the past. I leased a bedroom in an apartment and signed a lease agreeing to this. The people were very clear in the leasing office that; I was leasing a bedroom with a wet bar and I also had access to the kitchen,living room,and patios. I also had to pay a flat rate fee for shared utilities and share a mailbox with my room mates like any other bedroom for rent in the city. I was given a front door key for an entry key and was instructed to put the address of the apartment on my mail and not the letter of my bedroom, because the post office does not deliver mail to bedrooms only the apartment address. I never had a problem with mail.

The reason I leased with Rahe Management was the price, location and quality of the living condition. The grounds were well kept, the people in the office were knowledgeable, courteous and very accommodating.There one of the only apartment complexes, I could find that would allow for my dog. The finishes were wood floors,granite,wood cabinets and marble.

This is really too bad,if the City insist on imposing these hardships on company’s providing such a great amenity; not only the people of Boulder but too the City itself. If this trend insists; there will not be any nice affordable housing for rent in Boulder.

runningman

3/19/2009 10:40:50 AM

$50K in penalties?? That’s all?!Please City of Boulder… get a spine!As a “small-time” rental property owner in Boulder, I find this to be an absolute atrocity.Rahe Management gets off with a light slap on the wrist, while every other small rental property owner in Boulder gets a swift kick in the shorts in the form of depressed property value and lower rental income.

This kind of activity should not go lightly punished!Charles Rahe is an unscrupulous, greed-driven, slum lord and he is putting lives in danger and at risk while disrupting free enterprise for those who play by the rules of the law.

If the City of Boulder won’t do it, hopefully the forces of free enterprise will put Rahe Management out of business; for the sake of all of the scrupulous landlords in Boulder.

http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CO-Boulder-Park-Mesa-Apartments-408732.html

http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CO-Boulder-St-Moritz.html

saveboulder

3/21/2009 12:04:07 PM

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