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.


Oh boy, here we go again. Let’s create another government department, another government fiefdom. Every increasing staffs, ever increasing budgets, more pensions to fund, inefficient red tape paperwork, disrespectful and incompetent employees, angry landlords, angry tenants, worker’s comp claims, disability claims, lawsuits etc. etc.

We’ve seen it 100 times before. It’s the standard drill when government gets involved.


But don’t you understand we mere mortals are incapable of arranging a rental situation without the all knowing government employee there to take care of everything our inferior brains cannot comprehend.


Qualifying rental units to be safe would help comply with Section 8 housing requirements and thus create more affordable housing in San Luis Obispo.

Section 8 housing provides a steady income to landlords, 70% of which comes straight from the US government on a timely basis.

Homeowners can contact the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo for more information:


Assuming your information is correct, the Housing Authority can’t even fill all the housing units because the clients don’t want to live under their rules, inspections, and requirements. They are renting to Transitions to fill their units.

There are 4,000 rentals in SLO and how many do you think will actually be available/affordable to low income. This is simply a money raiser for the City. It is amazing to me everyday how government wants to control another piece of our life.

City has become the mini San Francisco, a nanny city for sure!


Increasing section 8 housing also drives up costs for people who don’t qualify but also are on a budget. Policies have unintended consequences. Try to present a more complete picture rather than just selling your idea. In the process you might learn something, Mr. Hill.


Like how to declare bankruptcy and maintain your life style.


So, it’s okay to stomp on my 4th amendment rights because I’m NOT a homeowner?


How else is the city going to pay for it’s Trillion $$$$$ underfunded pension system, certainly not by cutting salaries benefits and pensions, and definitely not employees, new taxes and fees are a much easier way.

just the facts

Just wait! The homeowner is next!!!!!


The next time you hear the SLO city council talk about needing more affordable housing remember that it’s actions like this, on top of all the other needless rules and regulations that make affordable housing impossible in this city. I hope some tenant challenges this in court. This is blatantly unconstitutional.


Excellent point, the current San Luis Obispo Mayor and city council have again increased the cost of all rental housing in the city and the city payroll, pension etc.

Happiest city indeed.


Another case of government overreaching to help justify its own being.

The city is simply looking for money to feed the beast.


When are we going to get rid of these over zealous bureaucrats ruining this city?


Next opportunity November………

Any one but Jan Marx, for San Luis Obispo Mayor Fall of 2016.


Two issues i see, first this ordinance will eventually spill over and the city will charge all property owners for inspection services including personal residences. Second when i rented many years ago i always took care of the property i lived in and always negotiated with my landlords, i was a good tenant and they knew it so they never raised my rent, and when i looked at a place that was too beat up to rent i used my power to not rent that particular unit. This new generation seems incapable of making their own decisions.

Dan Carp

I had many reasons to oppose this ordinance when it came before council in 2015:

1) we already have a complaint driven process in place.

2) it’s an invasion of privacy without cause.

3) it’s discriminating against a class of residents because of their housing status.

4) it’s inequitable as multi-family units don’t incur the same inspection and cost.

4) most landlords will build this additional cost into their leases and SLO becomes even more unaffordable then before.

End result is an elitist community with more homeless individuals on the streets as many of our low income residents will not be able to hang on.

Shame on us if we allow this to continue. You should contact Marx, Ashbaugh, & Christianson to let them know how this overreach of authority effects you…..AND make sure you educate yourself before the November elections.


I mainly agree with your points completely. I particularly liked “it’s discriminating against a class of residents” because class action suit was on the tip of my thoughts. It’s time the homeowners band together and take on city hall. The city stands to gain well over $2,000,000 per year I’m guessing. Plain thievery!


I was going to say that these inspections should be “complaint driven” only, and then you state that we already have that in place! Thank you Mr. Carpenter for looking out for the people.


Enforcement has always been complaint driven.

Thanks to a vocal minority and vote dependent Mayor we now have “Neighborhood Specialists”.

Patrolling the Poly adjacent neighborhoods for easy fines, or patroling someplace as I have never see one, ever (except that time I drove past franks).

just the facts

It is good to know that there are elected officials like Dan Carpenter who have common sense! This is all about bureaucratic control and the ability to raise additional fees and taxes to support that growing city bureaucracy. Remember…more salaries…more pensions…all coming out of the pockets of affordable housing residents!



The real purpose of these inspections are to check for banned plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, bad odors and whether trash containers are visible from the street.


Don’t forget the boats in the driveway.


Don’t forget the furniture on the front porch!! You better stay off that skateboard too!!!


That is right, small table by your front door, where you place your bag to get keys to open your door?

That’s a Warning (without appeal)!

Second offense, pay that fine citizen (even if the warning is BS)

It is a veritable smorgasbord of possible fines in my neighborhood.

For example, next door a wooden stool by the front door, three doors down a small indoor basket holds junk mail and dirty shoes.

Table and chair on your front porch, have a cup in the morning because your home just happens to face east? Better be outdoor rated furniture or you get a fine (you had your one warning).

I wish this was sarcasm, it’s not.

Vote for Anyone but Jan Marx this fall!