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Single Family Homes Inspections

posted Jul 18, 2012, 6:59 AM by Kayla Reidel

News Article taken from the M Live about the new single family homes inspections how landlords are adjusting to the new city code:

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – As the city begins certifying single family rental homes for the first time in its history, property manager Mark Troy says he’s trying to make the best of a situation most city landlords fought tooth and nail.

“We’ve got to comply, that ship has sailed,” said Troy, general manager of Compass Property Management Inc. His company manages some 800 rental units, including about 180 single family homes that are now subject to inspection in the city.

On July 1, city housing inspectors began enforcing a new code that requires each of an estimated 14,000 single family and two-family rental homes to be inspected and certified. Previously, the city only required registration of single family homes and certificates for multi-tenant properties.

For Troy, the goal is to get a six-year certificate for as many properties as possible on the first inspection. Homes that have a history of problems will get four-year certificates and be inspected more often.

“If we’re working with them and they see an effort, I think it goes a long way,” Troy said.

The inspections that lead to the certificates will take at least four years. The city’s Code Compliance Division has divided the city into neighborhoods to be inspected through June, 2016.

Complaints to the city from tenants will lead to earlier inspections and compliance orders if the homes do not pass muster.

Clay Powell, executive director of the Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA), said they hope to set up workshops with city inspectors so landlords can know what to expect when their properties are up for inspection.

Powell said he hopes city inspectors will rely on verbal orders to clear up small infractions rather than starting a complaint as they go through their first round of inspections.

“We don’t know how particular they are going to be in that first inspection,” said Powell, whose monthly newsletter featured a cover photo of a scowling cop writing a ticket.

Powell said he is encouraging owners of multiple properties to schedule their inspections so they don’t occur all at once and result in a crush of compliance work.

Some landlords are attempting to get ahead of the new code by evicting or failing to renew problem tenants who have not kept the property in good order, Powell said.
“A landlord can’t afford to keep a tenant who is going to destroy everything in 30 to 60 days,” Powell said.

To handle the added load, Connie Bohatch, the city’s Director of Community Services, said the Code Compliance Division has added six new inspectors, bringing the city’s code compliance force to 16.

The expanded department will be funded mainly by the added fines the inspections are expected to generate, Bohatch said.

Besides inspecting single family homes, the city has begun a more comprehensive inspection and certification program for duplexes, she said. While two-family dwellings were included in the code, they were inspected and certified mostly in response to complaints.

Bohatch said her department has been working with the RPOA and other housing advocates since January to make sure the inspection and certification program operates smoothly.

Since mid-April, nearly 800 single family and two-family rentals have been inspected and more than 350 inspections have been scheduled, Bohatch said.

The city also plans to inspect and certify condominium units that are rented out by their owners, Bohatch said.