An initiative for the City of Oshkosh (hereinafter the “City”) has stirred up tension between the City and multiple landlords. We thought it would be beneficial to look at the specifics of the initiative and the perspectives of both sides.
What the program will consist of
The Rental Inspections Program (hereinafter the “Program”) will require all rental properties to be inspected within the city. Inspections would occur every five years at a cost of $100.00 for the trip charge and a $45.00 charge per rental unit.
The Landlord’s view
With over 14,000 rental properties in the City this Program would inflict a large cost to landlords. Landlords claim that the program violates multiple landlord/tenant laws. Based thereon the landlords are in the process of filing a lawsuit against the City. The Program claims that it does not require inspectors to inform landlords and tenants that inspections are voluntary. The landlords also argue that if tenants do not give consent to the inspectors, a special warrant is needed in order for the inspectors to enter the property. Additionally, the landlords further argue that if they are required to have their properties inspected than all residential property owners should also be held to the same requirements.
The City of Oshkosh’s view
The City believes that it would be beneficial to have rental properties inspected to ensure the health and safety of all tenants. The City believes that this Program will reassure that landlords are meeting building requirements. Just like restaurants need to be inspected for health and safety compliance, this Program will ensure the same for rental properties. This Program would not come at the cost of the taxpayers, but at the cost of these businesses. The City claims that the fees were set only to cover the costs of the inspections and nothing more. The Program states that if the tenant chooses not to participate in the inspection and a warrant has not been obtained that only the exterior of the property will be inspected. The City also claims that this program will help to protect the property values of non-renting members of the City.
The City is looking to implement this Program in order to encourage landlords to be proactive in the upkeep and maintenance of their rental properties. Additionally this will ensure the health and safety of the occupants therefore this is important especially with rental properties around the UW Oshkosh campus with a large number of tenants that are UWO students. However, the perspective of the landlords would be carrying a large cost in order to meet the requirements of this program. Moreover, a system to monitor this Program would need to be implements in order to keep each landlord accountable. This controversy will continue to be a heated debate between the City and the landlords. Both parties should keep in mind the common interest and end goals of working together in order to protect tenants and for the City to continue to grow and prosper and both goals benefit all involved.