Madison landlord Ray Peterson has paid off all of his standing debts to the city.
Peterson, who was cited with 45 public nuisance properties in December, paid $475,000 to the City of Madison last week.
“Mr. Peterson had probably the worst record of any landlord in the city,” said Madison City Attorney Michael May. “We’re doing what we can to change the course of what’s happening there.”
Peterson paid off the debt so he could move forward on the sale of three of his 48 properties, all of which are currently on the market. The properties with buyers are located at 1344 E. Wilson St., 1339 Dewey Ct. and 1343 Dewey Ct.
Peterson said he hoped to sell all of the properties within 30 days of his December citation, which charged him with hiring a professional management company to bring all of his buildings up to code.
He did not hire a company.
As such, the City Attorney’s office is preparing to file a motion Thursday to bring Peterson back to court, according to Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy.
“It’s my understanding that he hasn’t done anything as far as addressing building code violations on the existing properties,” Zilavy said. “So that’s why we want to get the third party on board, so they can start addressing those problems.”
May said the city is also moving forward with additional building code violation cases against Peterson, which could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional judgments.
The city may expedite that process to prevent Peterson from selling more properties before additional city judgments come down.
“There’s a benefit to having him sell the properties to somebody that’s going to take care of them, but there’s also a benefit to having him pay for violations he’s had in the past,” May said.
The City of Madison initially filed a nuisance petition against Peterson in October, after decades of building code violations on Peterson’s properties.
At that time, Peterson owed more than $600,000 in accumulated judgments for more than 1,400 violations on his properties, dating from May 1, 2010 to May 1, 2015.
Peterson, 90, became a Madison landlord at 17-years-old. As of 2015, according to city assessor records, he had acquired $6.5 million in local properties. In June 2015, his monthly income from rental units was about $36,000.
Many of Peterson’s tenants are low-income individuals and families who have had trouble finding housing elsewhere. Peterson told the Cap Times in December that residents would be given the option to continue their current leases if their home was sold, or be given a chance to terminate their lease.