Pontiac – An Oakland County Circuit judge ruled Friday residents of the condemned Royal Inn motel in Royal Oak Township must vacate the premises by this Sunday afternoon.
The decision comes after the township last Thursday posted condemnation notices on the 203-room motel on Eight Mile for a litany of fire code problems and other violations, including insect infestation and rubbish discovered during inspections in recent months.
But eviction of nearly 300 people living there was temporarily put on hold after the Rajveer Corporation, which operates the hotel and Northlander, Inc., which owns it, sought a restraining order on the plans, claiming violation of property interest rights and due process. Circuit Judge Daniel O’Brien disagreed.
“We went to court today hoping for more time but the judge said ‘no,’” said Chandresh Shah, who manages and also lives in the motel. “We have to vacate the property within 48 hours. No choice.”
After hearing verbal arguments Friday O’Brien said he felt there were immediate public safety concerns that were not being addressed by the motel.
“It’s disappointing and we have a right to appeal but there’s no way that will happen by the 1:20 p.m. Sunday deadline,” said Bradley S. Defoe, an attorney for the motel, who added the majority of concerns found in inspections had been corrected and others were being addressed.
Defoe told O’Brien his clients had spent “tens of thousands of dollars” to remedy problems and were not being provided with adequate time to work on the others.
Royal Oak Township Supervisor Donna Squalls late Friday applauded the judge’s decision.
“I’m very pleased not just for the township board of trustees but for the entire township,” Squalls said. “As we are trying to clean up our image it is very important for us to have a motel be ordered to not just clean up its business to meet code but to set a higher standard for the community.”
According to court records, township building official Jim Wright inspected the motel on June 22 and completed a report on July 10 listing 34 items to repair or tasks to complete.
DeFoe said his client had spent $7,100 in the purchase and installation of new fire doors; another $10,000 on furniture, mattresses and televisions; $1,500 on carpeting and $2,600 on air conditioners. A $1,700 heating machine was being used to eradicate bed bugs.
But O’Brien agreed with township officials it was too little progress, coming years after repeated fire, building and mechanical code violations. The township had condemned the property back in 2014 hoping to correct the situation but reinspections proved otherwise.
Visits by the fire marshal last month and on July 20 found violations of fire doors, no smoking laws and cooking in rooms remained uncorrected.
In an August 11 inspection a deceased 49-year-old woman was found in one of the rooms by the fire marshal and management was unaware of the dead woman, according to the township.
Since last week, motel guests have received information about services, including relocation, provided by various local agencies. More than 100 have since moved out but about 200 remain, according to Shah.
“We just posted a sign everyone must be out Sunday,” Shah said Friday night. “We don’t know where they will go but if they’re not out, we will have to call the police to move them out.”