SLO rental inspection program moves forward

December 17, 2014

house for rentBy KAREN VELIE

At a contentious council meeting attended by approximately 200 people, San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to have staff draft a rental inspection ordinance aimed at eliminating unsafe housing conditions.

During the more than four-hour meeting, the bulk of those speaking at public comment were opposed to the city implementing a rental inspection program. Many opponents of the program argued against government intrusion into their homes while others said it was a tax on rentals disguised as a fee.

City staff countered by noting that some tenants were afraid to turn in their landlords for serious violations because of the fear of eviction and a shortage of available rental units.

In addition, if the ordinance is passed, it is expected that the tenant would have a right under the U.S. Constitution to refuse the inspection. Even so, critics of the program said many renters would not be aware of their Constitutional rights.

Councilmen Dan Carpenter and Dan Rivorie voted against having staff draft the ordinance wanting more time to look into the issue.

]ad] Carlyn Christianson said she supports all staff recommendations and made a motion to move forward. Both Mayor Jan Marx and Councilman John Ashbaugh voted in favor the rental inspection program.

If the ordinance passes, city staff will inspect each residential rental in R-1 and R-2 Zones every three years. Apartment complexes are exempt from the new inspection program under the proposal.

Owners of the targeted rental properties will be required cover the cost of the program through a yearly
“fee” assessed of about $98 per rental unit. With almost 4,200 rental units in the R-1 and R-2 Zones, the city will collect approximately $411,600 a year to fund the inspection program.

Several landlords told the council the fee would then be passed on to renters.

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Ohio court just struck down a program like this. Please read

“[T]he Court finds that the Portsmouth [Rental Dwelling Code] violates the Fourth Amendment insofar as it authorizes warrantless administrative inspections. It is undisputed that the [Rental Dwelling Code] affords no warrant procedure or other mechanism for precompliance review . . . the owners and/or tenants of rental properties in Portsmouth are thus faced with the choice of consenting to the warrantless inspection or facing criminal charges, a result the Supreme Court has expressly disavowed under the Fourth Amendment.”

Are you kidding me ? More bureaucracy and inspections in an overly regulated town !!

This is largely a revenue generator idea for a fee based program that took off during the recession. Check out Oakland’s program where they got completely caught screwing people. You all are a little late to the party. In Santa Cruz they promised only to look at a limited healthy and safety checklist. Total bull, once it passed and they got inside they inspect to current codes, not the codes at the time the building was constructed, meaning they have never ending work. They’ll try to sucker illegal units into the program under one guise or the other, with some silly promises they’ll never keep. Most of the worst offenders will never enter the program, knowing the government is trying to trick them. So, the worst offenders end up getting off and everyone else gets screwed. The whole reason they use to sell it is then moot. Fight the stupidity by calling them on it. Why would an illegal unit or substandard unit’s owner knowingly enter the program, knowing what I’ve said?

I’m from the government and I’m here to help…again.

I don’t see what is so bad about rental inspections. Some of the rentals in this city are horrendous and yet the rent is very, very high. It’s obvious the landlords only want to collect the rent money and forget about maintaining their property so that the tennants are actually even safe. If landlords are charging $3K per month and cramming 5-6 students in a house, I think that over a years time they can afford to pay for an inspection. Boom. I said it.

The city council will vote and pass this NEW TAX without the required 50+1 vote from the community as required for any new tax imposed on the citizens. This is the arrogance of these so called leaders. After that, just watch as this new department grows and becomes a money sucking government bureaucracy created to further control the residents of this city.

There are processes currently in place that allow for tenants to complain of unsafe conditions.

I ask you to consider this: it’s a long shot but if you listen to what the council says you can see where they’re leaning and some of the actions that they take are the precursors of their end desired results. If this new tax and inspection program is allowed to take effect, once the inspections “uncover” all of these “unsafe” properties, the homeowners will be saddled with outrageous fines and costs to upgrade, replace or repair and force the homeowner to sell the property less they go broke. This is when the city will swoop in and purchase that property with the taxpayer’s money to then turn around and re-sell it with the stipulation that it shall be owner occupied only.

I guess measure G just wasn’t enough money….the beast needs more…