Licensing Landlords

November 12th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

It always disheartens me when an important rental inspection ordinance encounters opposition.  Based on personal experience, I am convinced that a well executed ordinance can prevent buildings from becoming blighted and can protect tenants from negligent landlords.  I was recently reading about a town that adopted a less stringent rental inspection program. The town decided not to make owners register rental property.  The problem with this approach is that the most effective rental inspection programs require that the owner has a license or permit to rent the property.  If the property does not meet minimum code standards, the property cannot be rented until the problem is fixed.  Regular inspections are part of the program.  If an ordinance is watered down, the inspector has to keep sending notices of violation and citations to the owner while the owner continues to collect rent from the tenant living in substandard conditions.  While eventually, the court will order the owner to comply, those owners covered by a rental licensing ordinance seem to comply more quickly.  Once landlords become used to a rental inspection ordinance, they tend to do a better job of making minor repairs so large ones don’t become necessary.   An inspection program is often considered as part of a crime-free housing ordinance.  I’ve been helping local governments understand the benefits of rental inspection programs by making presentations at workshops and board meetings. Sharing my experience with people who are concerned about reducing crime and preserving property values is very rewarding.  As more and more owner occupied properties turn into rentals, strong rental inspection ordinances become vital in preserving the quality of life in a community.

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