To the editor:
I was surprised to learn that terminology and requirements to be included in the city’s rental inspection ordinance were still being debated. Despite a 3-2 vote before Chirstmas approving the comprehensive version, there are, evidently, objections requiring this discussion before the ordinance is submitted for final approval.
It may surprise readers to learn that current city and Section 8 housing inspection codes don’t include penalties for any type of structural deterioration that is not a clear, direct threat to occupants’ physical safety. Older houses with large broken pieces of concrete and water seepage in foundations or flooring can be labeled “minor cracks/minor dampness,” requiring no action on the owner’s part. Interior cracking in the walls (due to shifts in the foundation), cracked and peeling paint on walls and cupboards, rusted metal drains, problems with deteriorating woodwork — all “minor” infractions, requiring no attention.
Why? Because all are considered “aesthetics,” unimportant to safety, health of occupants. Duct work? Furnace cleanings and regular maintenance? Not required. It’s very hard to enlist landlords’ understanding about the detrimental effects of dirt/dust buildup in heating and cooling systems.
What’s to debate? If property owners can’t afford to take care of their properties, if they fear the consequences of health and safety inspections, all the more reason to pass this ordinance now, in its unaltered form. Arguments about the program costs and privacy concerns are superficial compared to the point of transparency. Time to fix up, shine up and stop making excuses for your negligence. Your renters will treat your properties with respect, and your neighbors will thank you.