New inspection policies in place for rental properties

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New inspection policies in place for rental properties

Megan Behnke, News Writer

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The Oshkosh City Council approved a new amended program for inspections on rental properties. It started March 1 and raised prices for landlords if any violations are found.

Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings said the whole goal has been to ensure that people have clean and safe housing.

“It’s been going on for a couple years,” Cummings said. “The legislatures in Madison gave communities the ability to focus on ‘Targeted Areas’ and bad rental properties.”

Inspection Services Division for the City of Oshkosh Chief Building Official John Zarate said the new program and the previous program have two differences.

“The program is not required to be enforced city-wide as required under the previous law by the state of Wisconsin,” Zarate said. “A fee cannot be charged for initial and follow-up inspection as long as violations are corrected within 30 days.”

OshkoshLiving rental property owner Mark Neubauer said inspections shouldn’t change too much now that the new program is in place.

“We just have to make sure that all the houses are up to code,” Neubauer said. “The only thing that’s really changing is if a rental property is found to have a violation, it will cost more to pay that fine, whether or not the property is being rented.”

Cummings said the inspections won’t affect students/residents already renting apartments as much as it’ll affect the landlords.

“The inspections are more for the landlords,” Cummings said. “If they see something wrong, they try to make you pay for it, trying to intimidate the students.”

Zarate said programs are typically not updated each year.

“The reason this program has had to undergo changes is that many landlords throughout the state are against this type of program, and they have tried to get laws to stop it,” Zarate said. “So when the laws get changed then the city has to adjust the program accordingly.”

Neubauer said the advice he would give to students-residents renting any kind of property is to take care of it.

“Treat your rental property like it’s your own home, because it is,” Neubauer said. “Be sure that everything is how it should be: appliances work, the walls are good, the windows are good, electricity, you shouldn’t have a problem.”

Cummings said landlords should try to keep their properties in good condition in order to avoid getting a violation and that residents should take pictures of their place when they move in.

“Whatever you’re paying, you’re expecting it to have proper heat, running water, etc.,” Cummings said. “Something could go wrong, something could break or a pipe burst, a window could be smashed and the landlord can ask students to leave, accusing them of something that they might’ve not done. Take pictures when you move in so you’re not hit with something that isn’t your fault.”

Zarate said there is no cost to the tenant at any time for the inspection, and the inspection is voluntary.

“If the tenants allow for the inspection of the rental unit, it will ensure that the unit meets minimum housing standards that the landlord is required to provide to a renter in Oshkosh,” Zarate said. “The standards cover health and safety items to make sure tenants have a safe and healthy place to live.”