By Ashley M. Casey
Fulton landlords will have to be a little more diligent in caring for their properties.
The Fulton Common Council amended the law concerning housing maintenance and rental permits to include steeper fines for property owners who skip out on inspections and a $500 fee to renew a revoked rental permit.
“It adds fees to multiple inspections and ‘no-shows’ to help offset our costs and entice owners to come into compliance in a more timely manner,” Brace Tallents of the code enforcement office told The Valley News. “We think that the $500 per unit fee will provide some incentive to the owners to pay a little more attention to their properties.”
The law amends the City Charter’s Subsection C 152(J), “Housing maintenance; rental permits.” The fee for a rental permit is $30 per unit, which includes one code inspection and one follow-up re-inspection to correct any code violations.
That fee doubles to $60 for a second re-inspection, and increases by $30 for each subsequent re-inspection, up to $180 for a sixth re-inspection. If a unit is occupied, the cutoff is the third re-inspection and the code enforcement officer files charges against the property owner.
There are also cancellation and “no-show” fees: $25 if the owner fails to appear within 15 minutes of a scheduled inspection, $25 if the owner cancels within 24 hours of the inspection and $35 for a second cancellation.
“This is not going to hurt landlords that take care of their properties,” Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers said. “This is basically recouping our costs for landlords that don’t fix up their properties in a timely manner.”
Fulton resident Dennis Merlino asked the council about “checks and balances” in terms of this amendment’s financial incentive to the city.
“What mechanisms does the city have in place to prevent this from being abused?” Merlino asked.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the fees mainly act as a deterrent to delinquent landlords and the city spends a lot of time in court battling with such property owners.
“We’re not going to waste our time … on people who don’t want to do simple housing maintenance,” Woodward said.
Tallents said property owners usually have 30 days to correct code violations. Woodward said landlords who are making improvements or need more time to correct violations can apply for an administrative hearing through the code enforcement office without incurring extra penalties.