ADVANTAGES OF PROACTIVE RENTAL INSPECTION (PRI) PROGRAMS

In many instances, PRI programs may be more effective than complaint-based programs in ensuring safe and healthy housing, preserving housing stock, protecting vulnerable tenants, and maintaining neighborhood property values.

August 2017:  Carson, 3, makes his way down the staircase. The plaster patches and duct tape on the walls of this Quincy rental duplex are the result of Wendy’s daughter’s boyfriend’s attempt to cover several holes that have been there since before the Smith’s moved in. Wendy and Chris say the first landlord said he would make the needed repairs but never did. They say when their current landlord purchased the house more than a year ago he said he would make the repairs to the walls. But a year later, no repairs.

August 2017: Carson, 3, makes his way down the staircase. The plaster patches and duct tape on the walls of this Quincy rental duplex are the result of Wendy’s daughter’s boyfriend’s attempt to cover several holes that have been there since before the Smith’s moved in. Wendy and Chris say the first landlord said he would make the needed repairs but never did. They say when their current landlord purchased the house more than a year ago he said he would make the repairs to the walls. But a year later, no repairs.

PRI Programs Preserve Safe and Healthy Rental Housing

By relieving tenants of the burden of having to force reticent landlords to make needed repairs, systematic inspections can help ensure that a locality’s rental housing stock is maintained and that residents live in healthy conditions.

Between the establishment of Los Angeles’s Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP) in 1998 and 2005, “more than 90 percent of the city’s multifamily housing stock [was] inspected and more than one and half million habitability violations [were] corrected. The result [was] an estimated $1.3 billion re-investment by owners in the city’s existing housing stock.”For example, between 2008 and 2013, under Sacramento’s Rental Housing Inspection Program, housing and dangerous building cases were reduced by 22 percent.

According to a study of PRI programs in five North Carolina cities, the City of Greensboro alone brought more than 8,700 rental properties up to minimum standards in four years under its proactive rental inspection program (RUCO).

In addition, by ensuring that landlords are aware of poor conditions before they worsen, systematic code enforcement encourages preventative maintenance, which is more cost effective than deferred maintenance, and thereby helps land lords to maintain their properties.

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 the D.C. City Council about the need for their proactive rental inspection. - changelabsolutions.org