(b) Purpose and intent. The purpose and intent of this Rental Code is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health, property, and public welfare by regulating and controlling the use, occupancy, and maintenance of all residential structures available for rent within the City of Edgewater. This Rental Code establishes minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities; for light, ventilation and occupancy; for plumbing facilities and fixtures; for mechanical and electrical systems; for fire safety; for exits; for pest control; and for the safe and sanitary maintenance of residential properties.
The original intent of this Code was to give renters a tool and an avenue for grievances when dealing with absentee landlords (some call them “slumlords”). The City was to use this Code as a regulation to enforce standards that are found to be out of compliance. The City would inspect a rental on a complaint-based status only. The Code also required landlords to register with the City. This Code does not apply to renting out rooms if the owner lives in the same house and shares cooking areas with the “roommate”.
The present intent of the Code is to control the property through forced inspections of all rental property by the City. The landlord is also mandated to apply for a business license with the City. One of the intentions of forced inspections is to protect low-income renters who are too afraid to complain about sub-par living conditions. Therefore, if all rental properties were brought up to this Code, then the City will not have any problems. That is the sentiment.
I support the intent of this Code, but I am very wary of the unintended consequences of the application of this Code. They are as follows:
- Gentrification- The City’s housing stock is rising and rent is going up all over the City. Could the forced inspections accelerate gentrification? Would this Code unwittingly force out the people this Code is intended to protect? The market is already doing that, much like what we’ve seen happening in the Highlands.
- Could this Code possibly force out “small” landlords because they do not have enough money to comply with the mandated Codes in the time allotted (7-90 days)? The ordinance does allow for an extension after it is approved the the City’s designated official.