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Iowa Introduces New Rental Inspection Requirement for Landlords

 

Rental Inspection Programs are city or county wide ordinances that require rental property owners to register their properties and agree to an inspection. The properties are typically inspected for compliance with state and local laws involving property maintenance.

The Oskaloosa City Council voted to adopt a Rental Housing Inspection Program in April 2017, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, according the the City of Oskaloosa’s website.

The program, which is intended to improve the quality of housing and the appearance of the community, will involve inspections of rental properties throughout Oskaloosa. The Rental Housing Inspection Program will require all housing units within the city to be registered, and to pass an inspection, every three years.

Cost of the Rental Inspection Program

Rental property owners will have until Aug. 1, 2017 to register their rental properties and pay the annual $15/unit registration fee.

One concern about the institution of a rental inspection requirement is that rental property owners will be forced to increase their rental rental rates to pay for the annual registration fee.

Additional Benefits

Rental registration and inspections are also intended to assist code enforcement efforts to improve the quality of life for tenants and neighbors of rental properties in order to better protect the public health, safety and general welfare of all residents.  The idea behind some rental inspection programs is to improve neighborhoods and general perceptions of rental properties from non-renters.

ChangeLab Solution offers a guide on the benefits of Rental Housing Inspection Programs. They claim that, “As rental housing is more likely to be substandard than owner-occupied housing, tenants are at higher-than-average risk. Local governments can play a critical role in improving resident health by implementing programs to improve the quality of their housing stock.”

According to ChangeLab Solutions, between 2008 and 2013, under Sacramento’s Rental Housing Inspection Program, housing and dangerous building cases were reduced by 22 percent.  

ChangeLab Solutions calls rental housing inspection programs, like the new one adopted by Oskaloosa, proactive. Alternatively, if an area does not have a proactive inspection program, tenants are responsible for reporting housing and code violations in order to live in safe and habitable conditions.

By relieving tenants of the burden of having to force reticent landlords to make needed repairs, systematic inspections can help ensure that a locality’s rental housing stock is maintained and that residents live in healthy conditions.

Other Cities with Rental Inspection Requirements*

Oskaloosa is one of many municipalities that has adopted a rental inspection requirement. Below is an incomplete list of some Rental Inspection Programs in the United States.

Azusa, California – Requires every rental be inspected.

Boston, Massachusetts – Requires every rental be registered and inspected ($50-$75/unit).

Boulder, Colorado – Requires all properties to maintain a valid license and be inspected.

Buffalo, New York – Requires rental registration and inspection.

Daytona Beach, Florida – Requires initial registration ($40) and inspection ($50/unit), as well as an annual license renewal ($15) and annual inspection ($68/unit).

Fort Mason, Iowa – Requires every rental be registered and owners pay an annual $25 per property plus $5 per additional rental unit to support the program.

Gresham, Oregon – Requires every rental be registered ($20-$55/unit per year) and inspected (no charge).

Santa Cruz, California – Registration ($45/unit per year) and inspected ($20/unit).

Sacramento County, California – Requires every rental be registered ($16/unit) and inspected ($127/unit).

Seattle, WA – All rental properties must be registered and inspected every 10 years.

*Do you live in a city or county that requires rental property inspection or registration? Let us know about it in the comments and I will add it to the list.

Anti-Inspection Laws

In 2015, the Southern District of Ohio ruled that the City of Portsmouth’s occupational licensing requirements imposed upon landlords – – rental property inspections and licensing fees – – violates the Fourth Amendment to the United State Constitution.


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