City inspectors in Lawrence, Massachusetts, say they're very familiar with the owner of the building on Trenton Street that went up in flames Friday morning.
They gave our sister station, Telemundo Boston, a tour of the property next door, which belongs to the same owner, pointing out loose railings, jammed emergency doors and a roach infestation.
City officials say the owner was arrested Friday afternoon on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in housing court. He'd been cited with violations at his other properties in Lawrence.
"The condition of this property suggests the owner of the property either doesn't have the capacity or the desire to maintain it," said assistant city attorney Brian Corrigan.
The owner, Isai Mencia, was bailed out after his arrest and said in a phone interview with NBC Boston he never received the notice to appear in court because it was sent to an old address, and said these are old properties that need continual repair.
"These are minor violations that are usual in situations where the tenant doesn't call the landlord and say, 'Listen, I have these or I have that going on,'" said Mencia. "Those railings in particular, those got loose with people going up and down, they do wear and tear."
City officials are filing a petition to turn over the two properties on Trenton Street to a third-party receiver.
"He's a classic slumlord," said Corrigan. "The jig is up."
In addition, Corrigan says Mencia could face criminal charges after allegedly confronting a city inspector Friday afternoon. He had to be escorted out of Lawrence City Hall.
Fourteen people escaped the Friday morning fire. No one was injured.