SLO to start inspecting rental units

February 15, 2016

RentA San Luis Obispo city worker will soon begin conducting inspections of rental properties in line with a controversial ordinance adopted by the city council last year. The new rental inspection program is facing growing opposition, and some argue it is unconstitutional. [SLO Tribune]

Last May, the council voted 3-2 to adopt an ordinance that allows an inspector to enter and examine rental units to determine if the properties are safe and habitable. The ordinance also requires landlords to pay a fee to fund the program.

Councilmen Dan Carpenter and Dan Rivoire cast the two votes against the ordinance.

Thus far, the city has registered 973 rental properties in the program. There an estimated 4,600 properties that qualify.

The program includes single-family homes, duplexes and granny units. Apartments are exempt, but they must be inspected by the fire department for fire-related concerns.

Inspections of rental units are required to occur every three years. Tenants can deny the city inspector permission to enter a unit, but the city can then obtain an inspection warrant from the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Landlords must pay a fee of $380 per unit every three years in order to cover the cost of the program. Those who participate in a self-certification program can pay $260 per unit.

The rental inspection program officially took effect in January. Inspections are scheduled to begin in April.

Many city residents have opposed the program, arguing it constitutes government intrusion in homes and a tax on rentals. As of Monday, 427 people have signed an online petition calling for a repeal of the program. A website,, is promoting the petition.

Supporters of the program contend there are deteriorating neighborhoods in the city where landlords do little to maintain their properties.

However, satisfying those concerns could put San Luis Obispo at risk of a lawsuit. Last October, an Ohio appellate court ruled that a city regulation requiring licensing of landlords and inspections of rental units violates the Fourth Amendment.


The SLO Property & Business Owners warned

about this a year ago at their February 2015 meeting. Where has everyone been?

I agree with the above comments: more intrusion, more $$ going into local government to fund unfunded pensions. Please note, a chance to inspect, a chance to fine/hassle/make so-called rich landlords pay more and more money that will ultimately come from their tenants.

This cannot possibly be constitutional.

Our city wastes so much money. According to

various city staff and Jerry Rioux of the HousingTrust Fund, our housing stock was in pretty good shape a few years ago. What happened?

Some of the most rundown properties I’ve seen are owner-occupied. But they are exempt.Isn’t that discrimination? The status of the occupant determines government action?


While I appreciate the vocal and vehemently opposed views of various “landlords,” I have some experience on both sides of this issue now. For about five years, I worked as a 24/7 fix-it-guy for a large slumlord. He managed 400 apartments. They say there is nothing like experience, and I experienced it all. I saw idiot tenants that absolutely destroyed homes through laziness and outright terrorism. I saw many of them get evicted at 2am when it was far below zero. I ALSO saw greedy land owners that did the absolute minimum to keep tenants in apartments and paying rent. Greed has no bounds.

My thoughts on this SLO issue? two things:

1. Owners: If you are up to code, what is the problem? If you are not, YOU are the problem and shame on you for being the weak and lazy cog in the greed machine.

2. Renters: Don’t tolerate any BS from your landlord. Report and demand a quick resolution to all issues. ALSO, however, treat that home or apartment with respect, offer to fix it up and work with your landlord to foster a great relationship.



Weird. I always thought that there was something in the Constitution about “unreasonable searches and seizures”, but I guess the SLO city council knows better.

I hope everyone makes them go get a warrant.


That’s PRECISELY what they would need to step foot through the threshold of my door.


A $380 fee every 3 years (36 months). The landlords will just raise the rent by $11 per month. The big issue is that Cal Poly has never had enough dormitory rooms. Poly has one of the lowest ratios of students in dormitories of any of the campuses in the CSU system. The City needs to continue to pressure Cal Poly and the State CSU system to build more student housing on campus. Landlords will maintain their properties better if they have to compete to find tenants.

The city could simply create a Facebook page where renters could post pictures and reports of any substandard conditions in their rental units. That seems like it would be a much more cost effective means to collect information on the conditions at the property.


SLO_Johnny, if you were a renter living in squalor why would you report it and risk getting evicted?


You wouldn’t, and thus you have actually exercised your free will by choosing to stay in such a place because the rent is satisfactory. Each to their own.


EXACTLY. Free will. Who knew such a thing exists? Not the regressive left.


my son lives in an apartment complex and “people” are in and out of apartment all the time to make sure he is adhering to the “rules”

he is moving.

and BTW, try and get a landlord to fix something after you have moved in.


This council is out of control. If they’re not banning it, they’re taxing it. Ban it Janet must go! We need a countywide search for viable candidates who are a voice of the public. The consistent disregard of citizen opinion is a clear path to impose self serving policies that chip away at our rights. Enough already!


Exactly right! Wake up people, and wake up your family, friends and co-workers as to what is going on in SLO City and County! Time to run these liberal minded folks back to the north or south or wherever they migrated from. Get involved in the upcoming elections, no other way to make changes. Time to walk the walk and quit complaining. I’m starting by supporting Dan Carpenter for 3rd District Supervisor. He’s been the lone sane voice on SLO City Council and we need him on the Board of Supervisors. He is all about stopping the over-reaching by our local government! I’m just encouraging you to do what you can to get some sensible people into office.

just the facts

Vote Dan Carpenter for 3rd District Supervisor on June 7th!


Hey, what ever happened to Marx’s and Ashbaugh’s plan to make it illegal for students to live in certain neighborhoods in SLO? Did someone finally clue them in on the illegality of such antics?

That incident and this current one shows just how out of touch the majority of the SLO City Council is today.


I would like to know what skills/degree does this employee hold to do the inspections?

I feel this is just one more way to help pay for the over paid staff Slo has on board.


True. To pay for the existing staff and to add more down the road.


I don’t care for these slummy student-occupied home either. But government overreach isn’t going to be a solution for greed. All it will result in is more government. And more gov’t means more taxes, more fees and more citations. It’s a terribly vicious circle that needs to be severed.

I would suggest the absence of window screens or the existence of leaky faucets is ultimately less detrimental to society than a gov’t that feels it can solve all the ills of humankind by passing more laws and ordinances.

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