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Summary of Multiple-Dwelling Unit Inspection Ordinance

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By Mayor Michael Herman

On August 19, 2002 at a special legislative meeting of the Town Council, legislation was introduced by CM Matthew Hart and CM Christina Davis concerning the town taking on the inspections of multiple dwelling units in town. The legislation was reviewed by the Legislative Committee and our town attorney. The purpose of the new ordinance is to take over the county code enforcement function of inspecting our apartment buildings. Currently, the county has inadequate staff to do routine inspections of apartments and apartment buildings. As a result, many apartments units have gone into disrepair, and unless a tenant complains to the county, no improvements will be made.

In the budget that I proposed in April and in the budget that was adopted in June for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2002, money was earmarked for the hiring of an inspector to perform these inspections.

Under the proposed ordinance, Riverdale Park will continue to charge apartment owners an annual licensing fee of $75 per apartment unit, which will cover, among other things, the cost of the inspection program. This fee, separate from the property taxes paid by apartment building owners, raises approximately $70,000 annually, and will offset the cost of the inspections.

Under the ordinance, each apartment unit in town (nearly 1,000 individual units) and each building will be inspected once in a two-year cycle. The purpose of the periodic inspections is to verify compliance with building, health and habitability codes. The ordinance provides for advance notice to building owners for inspections and requires building owners to make each apartment unit available for inspection, as well as common areas and mechanical areas of the apartment building. In the event violations are identified, the owner has no more than 30 days to correct the violations or run the risk of losing the right to continue operating an apartment building. In the event an owner disagrees with the findings and correction order of the inspector, an appeal process has been established. The ordinance provides for penalties against building owners for failure to grant inspections and for failures to correct violations.

The town council will be taking up the legislation for potential adoption at the September 3, 2002 legislative session.

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