Whitestown adopts rental registration and inspection ordinance
The Whitestown Council recently adopted a rental registration and inspection ordinance effective January 1, 2015. Per language IAA advocated for at the General Assembly certain properties can be exempt from the per unit inspection fee. The ordinance charges a $5 per property registration fee in addition to an inspection fee for properties who are unable to utilize the opt-out provision which was passed in HEA 1403. Properties that are professionally managed and have an annual passed inspection report for the property from a government agency (such as HUD REAC inspection), financial institution or insurance company authorized to do business in Indiana, registered architect, or professional engineer may opt-out from the inspection as well as the per unit fee. HUD REAC inspection reports are valid for up to 36 months. Properties unable to utilize the opt-out provision will be subject to an inspection at least every five years with a fee of $100 per unit. View the full ordinance.
The 2011 Indiana General Assembly passed HEA1543, which was filed on behalf of the Indiana Apartment Association, This new law allows the owner of a rental unit who is assessed any inspection, registration, or other fee by a political subdivision pertaining to the rental unit, to notify the tenants of the rental unit of the assessment of the fee and require its tenants to reimburse the owner for the payment of the fee by the due date. It also requires the political subdivision to maintain the fees collected in a special non-reverting fund dedicated solely to reimbursing the costs reasonably related to services actually performed by the political subdivision that justified the imposition and amount of the fee.
IAA continues to oppose inspection/registration ordinances that charge fees for the following reasons:
- Municipalities have been introducing licensing, registration, and inspections for apartment communities as a way to generate revenue.
- The problem is that licensing, registration, and inspections are attached to a fee.
- The fees affect the affordability of the rents and create an additional layer of bureaucracy in local government.
- Currently, most municipalities have some type of local regulation whereby they can inspect apartments on a complaint-driven basis.
- Several municipalities have adopted these types of regulations and are not inspecting at all, thus it is becoming a way for local governments to generate extra fees at the expense of affordable housing providers and low-income residents.
- Currently, most apartments have at least an annual inspection. A market rate property gets inspected by the lender, and/or if a third party is managing the property it is inspected by the owner or an owner's consultant or representative. Properties that have any kind of government assistance get inspected by HUD at least yearly and some properties get inspected prior to each move in, depending on the type of subsidy. Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority also does physical inspections of each unit and exterior annually. Because the layering of subsidy on most government assisted housing, it is not uncommon for the property to be inspected twice a year by the various government agencies.
- These ordinances can become discriminatory because municipalities will call for a list of residents to see the resident profile.
- Inspections are intrusive to residents, who would likely want to be there when the inspection occurs.
Cities and Towns with Inspection Ordinances
- Bloomington: For unit/building configurations, $50.00 per building plus $12.00 per unit in that building.
- Crown Point: Passed its ordinance in June 2012. Under its ordinance owners of rental properties must pay $50 per building and $20 per unit annually to the city. City officials will do annual inspections.
- East Chicago: Rental registration fee of $10.00 per each dwelling or rooming unit
- Elkhart: Registration only. Annual fee is $10 per unit.
- Evansville: Voluntary $10 per unit per year registration fee. If a property owner pays the fee voluntarily, the city will not require owner to pull a permit on any project that is less than $3,000.
- Gary: Passed its ordinance on 12/14/12. Initial registration fee is $75 per unit annual fee. Renewal fees are $25 per unit. Inspections are complaint-driven.
- Griffith: The owner or owners of rental housing properties shall register their properties with the Griffith Building Department and pay an annual registration fee of $25.00 per street address of each rental property and an additional $15.00 for the second and each and every other rental units located at said street address. Any apartment complex consisting of 200 units or more shall have the option of paying the total of all of the registration fees in 12 equal payments due no later than the fifteenth of each month. In the event a monthly payment is late, the late fee shall not exceed the sum of $1,000.00 per the late monthly payment.
- Goshen: Rental units to be registered every two years and inspected at least once every four years, with safety issues required to be fixed within 15 days and other problems to be corrected within 30 days. Registration fees are $25 every other year. Includes one inspection. Reinspection fee is $50 per unit.
- Hammond: $80 per unit; $250 per year for all apartments constructed after June 2010.
- Merrillville: Town Council passed an ordinance on July 10, 2012, and now charges $100 per unit annually. They inspect only if they receive a compalint. Funds will be used to help fund the police department.
- Munster: The fee for the tri-annual inspection and conditional rental permit or rental permit (or renewal thereof) shall be $200.00 for each dwelling or dwelling unit, payable at the time of application.
- Nappanee: $40 registration fee every two years, which includes one inspection.
- Speedway: Landlord License Application Fee – a non-refundable fee of twenty dollars ($20.00) due at the time an application is filed to obtain a Landlord License; Landlord License Fee – a fee of one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125.00) required to obtain a Landlord License or have a Landlord License reinstated; Owners of five (5) or less rental units shall be charged a fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00); Rental Unit Permit Fee – a fifteen dollar ($15.00) annual fee paid by the Landlord in conjunction with the Rental Unit Application for each Rental Unit owned by the Landlord.
- Valparaiso: One-time $10 per unit registration fee. No initial inspections. All inspections are complaint driven. Click here to see a copy of the ordinance.
- West Lafayette: $150 per structure and $2 per unit and the rental certificate shall be valid for a term of two years.
Considering or have considered in the past
- Beech Grove: Decided not to pursue
- Charlestown: In 2008-09, the Building Commissioner attempted to have a Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance passed. It was approved by the Plan Commission but declined by the City Council. Could resurface.
- Greenfield: Considering an ordinance
- Highland: Has tabled the issue for now
- Indianapolis: Still on the table; currently on hold; considered a large fee for self inspection
- Jeffersonville: No action has been taken
- Marion: No action has been taken
- Plainfield: Decided not to pursue