Panel begins tackling trouble rental propertiesA newly formed study group got its first taste of the problems Superior’s residential rental market holds on Wednesday evening.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
A newly formed study group got its first taste of the problems Superior’s residential rental market holds on Wednesday evening.
The panel of building and housing experts is tasked with developing a recommendation for the council that could shape how the city addresses its residential rental woes — issues like single family homes sliced and diced into boarding houses, illegal apartments and a myriad of dilapidated conditions that threaten the safety of occupants and their neighbors.
“We very much appreciate the citizen input that is going to be a part of this,” said Chief Building Inspector Dan Curran. “It is essential.”
The Superior City Council created the panel two weeks ago with the goal of evaluating rental housing conditions and determine a course of action to ensure tenants have the opportunity to live in safe housing.
The recommendations will be presented to the council for consideration.
Building inspection has become more reactive than proactive in dealing with living conditions that are untenable, Curran said. He said the department is spending more time addressing the problems rental properties are creating for tenants. He estimated 5,000 rental units in the city, only 2,700 of which are subject to commercial fire inspections.
Getting into a rental property is by invitation only, said Peter Kruit, one of the city’s building inspectors.
Inspections of rental properties are complaint driven, and building inspectors must be invited in by either an owner or a tenant to perform an inspection since the council eliminated rental licensing in 2008.
The program was eliminated when a miscalculation in the number of rental units subject to a city inspection was miscalculated, creating a gap in funding for the inspection program.
Subsidized properties already subject to federal housing inspection programs were exempt under the program eliminated in 2008.
However, the condition of rental property hasn’t improved since the program was eliminated.
“All we’re doing is reacting,” Curran said. “Answer the phone. Respond to the complaint.”
While the panel received an introduction to some of the problems with rental property in the city, the group is just beginning to get organized.
The group meets again at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Government Center.