Here's more information about proactive rental inspection programs, including advantages and challenges, provided by Maggie Strong, “Quincy Next.” (click on the link):
PRI Programs Help Protect the Most Vulnerable Tenants
Often, the most vulnerable tenants don’t complain. Some tenants are unaware that they have a right to safe and habitable housing. They may not know about existing tenant protections or code enforcement programs. Or they may have language barriers or disabilities that make it difficult to navigate the code enforcement system. Many tenants may be afraid to complain about their housing for fear of increased rent or landlord retaliation (such as eviction). Residents may be undocumented or have limited income that hampers their ability to move.
As a result of these barriers, the housing inhabited by the most vulnerable populations, which is frequently the worst housing, is often the most likely to fall through the cracks of a complaint-based code enforcement system. In 2009, Linda Argo, the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) for the District of Columbia, testified before D.C. City Council about the need for their proactive rental inspection program. She explained, “it's quite clear that a complaint-based system is no longer sufficient if we want to maintain safe housing conditions for all residents, especially our most vulnerable – the poor, the elderly, the non-English speakers.” She noted that “[f]or the vast majority of properties named in the slumlord lawsuits [initiated by the Attorney General], DCRA had not received any recent complaints from residents of those buildings. And for the worst of the properties, we never received a single complaint.”
PRI Programs May Preserve Neighborhood Property Values (and a Locality’s Property Tax Base)
One of the lessons localities have drawn from the foreclosure crisis is that it is crucial to prevent concentration of blighted properties, in part because poorly maintained, substandard housing can have a negative effect on neighboring property values. By addressing housing conditions proactively, and by quickly identifying and targeting exterior substandard conditions alongside interior code violations, proactive rental inspection programs can ensure that properties don’t become blighted, thereby preserving property values. From a financial standpoint, this benefits landlords and homeowners. Maintaining neighborhood property values also benefits the entire locality because it preserves the local tax base.