DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATEGY
Universal registration or licensing of multi-unit residential buildings with state or local code enforcement authorities helps to ensure that minimum property maintenance standards are met by landlords, particularly absentee landlords. As part of the registration/licensing obligation, owners can be required to provide contact information for themselves, as well as any agents managing the property, and to designate an agent to receive legal notices in the locality where the property is situated.
Rental registration and licensing programs ensure that persons with responsibility and authority to maintain buildings can be readily located and served with legal notices. Successful delivery of such notices ensures that non-compliant property owners have received official notification of a code violation. This expedites compliance or enforcement action to achieve compliance with applicable housing quality and maintenance standards. Tenants also benefit from being able to readily locate those responsible for maintaining their homes to inform them about potential housing-related health hazards such as peeling paint or leaks.
Prompt and consistent enforcement of housing codes improves the likelihood of effective maintenance of rental housing, reducing the risk of lead hazards.
Other systems, such as CLPP programs, housing authorities, and public safety agencies, can use address-based data about rental housing that identifies property owners to fulfill their missions.
Scope of Potential Impact
City - or - County - Wide
|Code or Building Inspection Agency||Property Taxation Agency|
Staff requirements will vary depending on whether the program is adopted at a state or local level. Once a system is in place, nominal staff is required to update records and enforce orders.
Other resource requirements:
Computerized information system and methods for disseminating, retrieving, and reviewing registrations.
Statutory authority is required in order to compel property owners to register their properties. Staff training requirements are minimal.
Rental registration programs are not costly. These programs can be supported by a registration fee to minimize the impact on the code enforcement program’s resources and can generate income to support pro-active inspections or enforcement.
An initial phase-in period will be necessary, with a deadline after which owners who have not registered their properties are considered in violation of the requirements. Re-registration should be required at minimum when properties change ownership or an owner’s or agent’s contact information changes.
Moderate. These programs can be easily implemented once statutory authority is in place. The key to their effectiveness is adequate staffing in health and/or code inspection agencies to ensure enforcement.
Rental registration and licensing programs are in place in a number of jurisdictions. However, in order to be effective, they must be coupled with effective enforcement and meaningful consequences for non-compliance. In New Jersey, for example, many courts will not allow an eviction case to proceed if the property is not registered. In addition, the state can file a docketed judgment for $200 per building if an owner fails to register a property.
William “Dan” Reynolds, Code Enforcement Manager, City of Greensboro, email@example.com, phone: 336-451-1054, and Beth McKee-Huger, Greensboro Housing Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 336-691-9521.