Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1070724

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 31, 2014

Council to discuss inspections

By David Hotle | Oct 18, 2013
Housing Task Force Chair Karen Gorham, left, and Kathy Henry, chair of the Landlord Responsibility Subcommittee, give their presentation July 17.

If the City of Washington does rental property inspections, as was recommended by the Washington Housing Task Force, what shape will they take? This will be the main topic of a Washington City Council work session that is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Washington Public Library.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said today that the work session would just start the discussion. He said that he hopes to learn what the council wants the city to accomplish from an inspection ordinance. The council has identified rental inspections as a top priority from the task force’s recommendations.
“There is a lot of variability out there,” Hinson said. “I’m going to run some things by the council that other cities have done. And we will talk generally about the process.”
He expects the process of creating a rental inspection ordinance to take at least a month.
During a city council meeting July 17, the 14-member task force gave a presentation on its recommendations to the city council. The Landlord Responsibility Promotion Subcommittee identified a basic needs list for apartments and recommended a requirement that landlords get a rental permit for occupancy and a health and safety inspection every two years in order to do business in Washington.
Hinson said the possibility of forming a permanent task force would also be discussed at the work session.
At the regular city council meeting held Wednesday, during the third reading of amendments to the nuisance ordinance, city administrator Brent Hinson said that a section regarding inspections had been added. Due to recommendations from Barbara Edmondson, an attorney working for the city, it detailed how inspections could be authorized. Authorized inspections included city workers to enter for inspection at the request of the owner or tenant, with the consent of the owner, upon issuance of a warrant issued by a magistrate or judge, or at the request of a law enforcement officer who is on the premises lawfully. In a 3-2 vote, the council approved the measure after striking inspections at the request of a law enforcement officer who is lawfully on the premises.

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