Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Do you own rental homes? The city is coming to inspect your property, and here is everything you need to know to be prepared.

Dear Property Owner;

Pursuant to section 16.20.900 of the City of Sacramento Housing Code, rental housing property shall be subject to inspection…

If you’re a landlord or investment property owner in Sacramento city, county, or even surrounding counties, you very well might have received a letter starting like this recently. In fact, rental housing programs are a vital tool to ensure that landlords maintain safe, clean, and livable standards for tenants who pay good money to occupy these properties. Conversely, the rental housing inspection is valuable for landlords and owners, who get to make sure the tenants are keeping their property in good condition and following all housing and community regulations.

From the Rental Housing Inspection Program web page for the City of Sacramento:


“The purpose of the Rental Housing Inspection Program is to address the issue of substandard rental properties, promote greater compliance with health and safety standards and preserve the quality of Sacramento’s neighborhoods and available housing. The program achieves compliance of health, safety and welfare code violations in/on residential rental properties that are a threat to the occupant's safety, structural integrity of the building, and a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.”

While there is some expense and effort required of the landlord, the inconvenience should be minimal.

I’ll base this on Sacramento city’s program and then give links for Sacramento County and surrounding areas, too.

1) Property owner registers their rental unit with the city program.
This is done with a quick rental housing registration form that confirms the mailing address, how many units are on the property, etc. Registration packets will be mailed to property owners but it’s up to the property owner to proactively register in case they did not get one.

2) Pay the program fee.
To register with the Rental Housing Inspection Program there is a $16 fee. For the actual unit inspection, there is a $127 fee for each unit ($254 for a duplex, etc.)

3) An inspection will be scheduled.
Notices of scheduled inspections are sent to the owner with at least two weeks notice until the appointed times, but usually more. The appointment will have a date and time of the inspection. A separate appointment letter will be sent to the tenant, along with a consent form for them to allow entry if they cannot be present at that time.

4) The unit will be inspected.

5) Inspection findings will be reported.

6) Based on the findings, the tenant and landlord need to bring the property in compliance.
If the inspector finds items that need to be addressed or fixed, the owner will have 30 days from the initial inspection. Failure to do so will result in additional fees, as well as missed appointments or appointments rescheduled outside of a 7-day window. The city will come out to re-inspect the property to make sure the necessary items were fixed/addressed properly.

7) Enrollment in the Self-Certification Program for future inspections.
If no violations were found on the property at the time of the inspection, or they were subsequently corrected, the inspector will issue an approval and the property will “graduate” to the Self-Certification Program.

8)  Going forward.
The Self-Certification Program allows owners to perform their own inspections each calendar year (or upon change of tenant), instead of scheduling a city inspector. Property will fill out the same inspection checklist and submit it to the city, and retain for their records.

The city will randomly inspect units enrolled in the Self-Certification Program (about 10% of those units are still inspected) to make sure property owners are actually in compliance and doing the work.

As long as no violations or issues are found, the property can remain in the Self-Certification program.

Some common questions about Sacramento’s Rental Housing Inspection Program:

Is it mandatory for property owners to register in the Rental Housing Inspection Program and pay the fees?
Yes. Failure to do so is a violation of city statutes and code enforcement will be notified.

Are there any exemptions to the program?
If rental properties are regularly inspected by another agency or the housing unit is less than five years old, property owners may file for an exemption.

What if property owners live out of the area or out of state?
If it is not feasible for a non-local property owner to attend the scheduled rental inspection, they can assign a Local Contact Representative to let the inspector in and be present the day and time it is scheduled. This can be a friend, real estate agent, property manager, or relative. As long as they are listed on the registration form and their contact information and signature are valid

What are the most common violations?
According to the City of Sacramento Code Enforcement Department, the ten most common violations are:

1)   Lack of working smoke detectors
2)   Faulty electrical service or panel
3)   Not having GFCIs in the bathroom
4)   Lack of weather protection on the roof
5)   Front door that does not have door viewer (peephole)
6)   Water heater installed improperly
7)   Improper roof venting
8)   Unapproved plumbing
9)   Hazardous wiring
10) Inadequate permanent heating


Where do I get more information about the Rental Housing Inspection Program or contact the city?


CONTACT US
Phone: (916) 808-7368
Fax: (916) 288-9955
NOTE:
For appointment changes, rescheduling, etc. or for urgent matters please contact us by phone as e-mail replies are subject to delay.

We’ve also attached some common forms that you will need if you’d like to get started. Or even if you are not in the city or a county that requires these inspections, you might want to proactively inspect your own units with this checklist.

Sacramento County has its own program, pursuant to Sacramento County Code 16.20.900. While the basis is the same, there are some fundamental differences to registration, fees, the self-certification program, and inspections.

You can find out more here:


or contact the appropriate county office at:
916-876-9020 phone / 916-874-8409 fax

9700 Goethe Rd. Suite A, Sacramento, CA 95827 

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Email us if you'd like a copy of all the relevant forms you need to go through the rental property inspection process.

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