The Syracuse Common Council is proposing tougher inspection rules for rental properties. According to Syracuse.com, Syracuse Common Councilor Khalid Bey is proposing that Syracuse change its laws to allow city officials to conduct rental property inspections every two years.
Bey previously proposed the change in 2016, but it was defeated by the council 5-4 after backlash from property managers. However, with councilors Nader Maroun and Jean Kessner no longer on the board, Bey is hopeful the proposal may have a chance.
The current Syracuse rental registry law includes an exterior inspection by code enforcement officers to approve the occupancy of the rental. Bey is proposing that an interior inspection be added to the law.
Code enforcement inspections are necessary to ensure a building and place of residence are up to code. By requiring an interior inspection as well as an exterior inspection, Bey says the state will be able to crack down on property owners who are negligent of their renters.
“[You] have houses that are exposed to the elements,” said Bey to the Daily Orange. “You have houses that are rodent-infested … those people still have issues.”
Ken Towsley, the director of the Syracuse code enforcement, argued against Bey’s proposal saying that the code enforcement department already handles as many as 70,000 inspections a year. With only 25 inspectors, Bey’s proposal would increase the department’s inspections to an additional 8,500, Towsley said.
However, rental buildings housing three or more families are currently receiving periodic inspections in comparison to those with only one to two families in residence. More frequent code inspections would ensure rental properties with one to two families are just as up to code as the others.
For a building to be up to code, the roof should be inspected at least once or twice a year, proper bathroom ventilation is necessary, junction boxes need to be visible and accessible, and handrails need to end at a 90-degree angle against the wall. Many of these features can’t be detected from outside a house.
Yet, despite the proposal to ensure properties are up to code both inside and out, the proposal also includes detailed instructions regarding warrants for the inspection.
“Nothing in this ordinance shall be construed to require a person to consent to an inspection of a premises in order to determine compliance with applicable code provisions,” the proposal reads.
The council has yet to reach a consensus on Bey’s proposal. Councilors will further discuss the proposal in a session Wednesday, February 7 at noon.