Maine High Court: Portland Landlord Must Pay More Than $500K Penalty For Uncorrected Violations

Dec 12, 2018

Maine's high court has upheld a lower court ruling imposing more than a half-million dollar penalty on the owner of a Portland apartment building because of a number of uncorrected fire, electrical and life safety violations that the court says posed immediate threats to the safety and health of the owner's tenants.

City officials say this is a record judgement, and describe Sulan Chau as a non-responsive landlord whose building had been inspected repeatedly over the course of 28 months. 

The city says Chau was notified of violations in writing eight times.  While a few improvement were made,  significant problems remained, says city spokesperson Jessica Grondin.

"I mean, we have a lot of landlords who are very great with us and are very cooperative and care about the safety of their tenants, but we're hoping that this sends a message to those some of those who are resistant to doing so."

In it's decision, the high court noted that Chau made an initial appearance in District Court, but neither she nor an attorney showed up for the final hearing.   

Grondin says the violations have been corrected at the property cited in the judgement, and says the city is working with Chau on another property that has violations.

A call to Chau's attorney was not immediately returned.