Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Committee completes rental inspection proposal

April 26, 2007

The committee charged with developing a rental inspection program for the city of De Soto is proposing rental units be inspected every three years and more often if tenants report safety and health violations.

City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle informed the De Soto City Council last Thursday of the committee's progress. The committee was appointed last year after Guilfoyle suggested a rental inspection program could motivate landlords who viewed rental property as short-term cash flow investments to make improvements to their properties.

The committee is comprised of Guilfoyle, De Soto City Councilwomen Mitra Templin and Linda Zindler, City Attorney Patrick Reavey, city planning director Kim Buttrum, city codes inspector Steve Chick, De Soto Multi-Service Center coordinator Jodi Hitchcock, and landlords Candace Asbell and David Rhodes, owner of Clearview City Inc.

The proposal would require landlords in the city to acquire a $25 annual permit to rent or lease residential units in De Soto. The fee would be the same no matter how many units a landlord owned.

Units would be inspected every three years during which codes inspectors would look for how the unit complied with a city's 59-point basic housing checklist. Should the city receive multiple complaints about a unit, a special inspection could be scheduled.

Guilfoyle told the council a landlord failing to comply with the program's standards would be subject to prosecution in municipal court, which could result in fines or jail time. The landlord's license could also be revoked, which would affect all units that person owned, he said.

The city's code enforcement department could administer the program and inspect the homes without adding another employee to its two-person staff, Guilfoyle said.

As a past landlord, Councilman Tim Maniez said he experienced the frustration of trying to evict a bad tenant who was damaging his property. He wondered how much luck would the city have with revoking licenses and putting tenants on the street?

The difference would be the city was responding to renters' complaints, Guilfoyle said.

Moreover, Reavey said the committee viewed the license as leverage to get landlords to make improvements.

"To get to that point, you would really have to have a landlord not willing to work at all with the city," he said of revoking licenses and removing tenants.

Guilfoyle and Reavey will have scheduled meetings at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday at De Soto City Hall, 32905 W. 84th St., to explain the details of the rental inspection program to landlords.

The council will consider the rental inspection program at its May 3 meeting.

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