You’ve Passed a Rental Registration Ordinance…Now What? (3 of 4)
In a previous post we shared some tips on how to identify and map potential rental properties. Today we are taking the next step and sharing some innovative approaches to prioritize outreach and inspections. Why is prioritization so invaluable when it comes to managing a rental registration or inspection regime?
First, we haven’t come across too many departments that say they have enough staff, time, and budget to oversee compliance of rental ordinances. So prioritization is a tool to make sure that those limited resources are allocated where they are needed most.
Second, in most communities a few “bad apple” landlords are responsible for a disproportionate amount of unsafe properties. Local governments that can focus their attention on problem properties & owners are far more effective at managing a rental ordinance—but that requires knowing how to identify them.
So what are some ways to prioritize outreach or inspections for a Rental Registry or Licensing program?
- Landlord size: A mid-sized city in the Southwest with a recently enacted rental inspection ordinance wanted to get as many properties inspected in the first six months as possible. Using the Owner Property Count filter in BuildingBlocks, they were able to quickly map all owners with ten or more properties. Instead of having to contact and schedule inspections with thousands of small-scale landlords, city staff were able to inspect nearly a third of all multi-family residential properties in a matter of months by coordinating with a handful of larger property owners.
- Nuisance points: A large city in New York required landlord licensing, so they instituted a scoring system that factored open code violations, police calls for service, work orders, and other quality of life issues with each property. Landlords that scored high in terms of nuisance points were required to renew their license more frequently, and those above a certain threshold were banned from renewal altogether until they brought their properties into compliance.
- Geography: For municipalities with code inspectors assigned to specific areas, these zones provide a great way to segment administration of a rental registry. One large Ohio city targeted three neighborhoods with a high percentage of rentals for a pilot rollout of the inspection program. The Buildings Department Director in a small town in the Southeast sets his code officers up with an alert so that any time a complaint is registered in close proximity to a rental that is past due for or close to a renewal date, they receive an email alert to schedule an inspection. Instead of taking two separate trips. And housing officials in another mid-sized city in Ohio use the ‘Search Around Me” filter in BuildingBlocks mobile app to search for potential non-compliant rental properties when they are in the field. And a Pennsylvania city we work with analyzes their rental compliance effort in part based on Block Group income levels. Officials there want to make sure they are not disproportionately cracking down on low income areas, potentially reducing naturally occurring affordable housing.
- Out of town owners: A small city in the Mid-Atlantic kicked off an annual compliance push, but they wanted to avoid sending mailers to local residents who might actually live in the property in-question, despite having a different mailing address. So they used the Owner Location filter in BuildingBlocks to target only out-of-town landlords of applicable rental properties, then used the Mail Merge export to automatically generate outreach letters.
All or some of these approaches can be adapted to fit your locale needs. Reach out today if you’re interested in learning more.