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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 12

Meeting Date: April 22, 2008

Subject/Title: Waive second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 858 amending Brentwood Municipal Code Title 8 by adding a new Chapter 8.44 (Rental Property Inspection).

Prepared by: Louis R. Kidwell, Chief Building Official

Submitted by: Casey McCann, Interim Community Development Director
______________________________________________________________________

RECOMMENDATION
That City Council waive the second reading and adopt Ordinance No. 858 amending the Brentwood Municipal Code Title 8 by adding a new Chapter 8.44 (Rental Property Inspection).

PREVIOUS ACTION
On April 8, 2008 the City Council introduced and waived the first reading on an ordinance amending Brentwood Municipal Code Title 8 by adding a new Chapter 8.44 (Rental Property Inspection) to establish a periodic and proactive rental property inspection program for residential housing so as to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring the property maintenance of such housing; by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions; and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely affect economic conditions and the quality of life in the city.

At the February 26, 2008 meeting, a report was given by the Neighborhood Improvement Committee regarding consideration of a Rental Inspection Program Ordinance for consideration.

At the January 8, 2008 meeting the Neighborhood Improvement Committee members reported that discussion of a Rental Inspection Program would be forthcoming to the City Council for input and consideration.

BACKGROUND
At this time the Brentwood Municipal Code does not specifically provide for the periodic inspection of rental properties. The City Council has expressed a desire to establish a periodic and proactive rental property inspection program for residential housing so as to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring the proper maintenance of such housing; by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions; and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely affect economic conditions and the quality of life in the city.

With the Rental Inspection Program, detailed in the attached ordinance, the exterior of each rental property in the City (estimated to be approximately 5,000 units) would be inspected by Code Enforcement staff at least once every two years. Inspections would be unannounced and conducted from the public right-of-way. Only conditions visible from the front of the property would be inspected. Re-inspections would occur only after the responsible party was given notice of any violation(s) and provided with time to correct the violation(s). If the violations were not corrected, the ordinance provides the Code Enforcement officer with a number of tools to obtain compliance, with administrative citations being the one most commonly used.

There has been some confusion related to the applicability of the rental inspection ordinance to gated neighborhoods. With regard to current enforcement efforts in gated communities, the Code Enforcement division has focused on health, safety and building permit violations. Strict enforcement of Covenants, Codes and Restrictions (CC&R’s) by homeowner associations, as well as the inapplicability of certain Municipal Code sections in such neighborhoods, has meant that the City has not traditionally enforced the more aesthetic violations within gated communities. Rental property inspections will occur within gated communities to ensure that such properties comply with all applicable laws. Given the very few complaints that arise from gated communities, it is not anticipated that these inspections will have any noticeable impact on the rental inspection program.

Pursuant to Council direction, the ordinance provides for a review of the program after three years to determine the effectiveness of its provisions and its impact on the General Fund. At that time, the Council shall determine whether to continue, amend or repeal the program

FISCAL IMPACT
The fiscal impact of this program is demonstrated in the attached chart. Over time money from the General Fund will be necessary to subsidize the business license revenue collected from landlords. Costs are estimates only, as the exact number of rental units, and number of re-inspections and citations are unknown at this time.

The overage/shortfall varies over time, but the program is estimated to have an overage in years two and three, but will require a General Fund subsidy for all years beyond year four. Over the ten year period detailed in the exhibit, the program would require a General Fund subsidy of $431,198. The funding exhibit does not take into account any staff time for personnel from the Police Department or City Attorney’s Office that may be required for enforcement efforts such as nuisance abatements.

If adopted, this ordinance would require all owners of rental property to obtain a business license, in accordance with our business license ordinance, and this funding source would be used to partially offset the costs of the program. Staff estimates instituting this program would require one dedicated Code Enforcement Officer to conduct and track the inspections, one Accounting Assistant to collect and track the business license revenue and one half-time Administrative Assistant to provide administrative support of the program.

Attachments:
Ordinance No. 858 amending Title 8 to add a new Chapter 8.44 Rental Property Inspection
Residential Rental Inspection Process
Residential Rental Inspection Fiscal Analysis
Residential Rental Inspection Assumptions

CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCE NO.

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD AMENDING TITLE 8 TO ADD A NEW CHAPTER 8.44 (RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTION)


THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD DOES HEREBY ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. That Chapter 8.00 of the Brentwood Municipal Code is hereby amended to add Chapter 8.44 (Rental Property Inspection) to read as follows:

“Chapter 8.44 RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTION.

8.44.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish a periodic and proactive rental property inspection program for residential housing so as to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring the proper maintenance of such housing; by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions; and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely affect economic conditions and the quality of life in the city.

8.44.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings set forth below:

“applicable laws” means the provisions of this code, the provisions of any code adopted by reference by this code; permits issued by the city; conditions of development approval; or ordinances and regulations adopted by the city.

“city” means the City of Brentwood, California.

“deficiency” means any failure of a rental property subject to this chapter to comply with applicable laws.

“responsible party” means any person or persons who has ownership or control of the rental property and shall include any of the following:

A. The person or persons who own (as shown on the last equalized assessment roll) the property where the violations exist;

B. The person or persons in charge of the property where the violation exists;

C. The person or persons using the property when the violation exists;

D. If any of the persons in subsections A through C of this section are minors, the parent or guardian of such minor; and

E. If the person or persons is a business entity, the manager or on-site supervisor where the violation exists, the owner, partner, corporate officer or business entity itself.

“rental property” means a residential dwelling within the city occupied by or intended for occupancy by a person other than the owner of record as shown on the last equalized assessment roll.

“enforcement officer” means a code enforcement officer or other city employee designated under chapter 1.08 of this Code to issue notices of violations and administrative citations for violations of applicable laws.

8.44.030 Applicability; exemptions.

A. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all rental properties except those enumerated in subsection C below.

B. The provisions of this chapter are supplementary and complementary to other provisions of this code. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit any existing right of the city to inspect rental properties and enforce violations on a more frequent basis than the time periods set forth herein.

C. The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

1. Those rental properties which are exempt from municipal regulation pursuant to state or federal law or regulations, but only so long as such government ownership, operation or management or exemption from municipal regulation continues in effect.

2. All mobile homes, manufactured homes, recreational vehicles and other dwelling units located in a mobile home park.

3. Hotels and motels.

8.44.040 Periodic inspections.

The enforcement officer shall cause the exterior of each rental property to be inspected at least once every two (2) years to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

8.44.050 Notice of deficiencies.

The enforcement officer shall provide the responsible party with written notice of deficiencies noted during the inspection and/or re-inspection of the rental property.

8.44.060 Re-inspections.

A rental property that exhibits a deficiency or deficiencies shall be subject to re-inspections to ensure that all deficiencies are corrected.

8.44.070 Relocation of tenants.

If any rental property is found unsafe to occupy, the costs and expenses of relocation of any tenant from that property shall be the responsibility of the property owner.

8.44.080 Penalties.

Failure of a responsible party to comply with the written notice of deficiencies may result in the issuance of administrative citations; abatement of any nuisances; criminal and/or civil penalties; recordation of a notice of pending action; the provisions of Revenue and Taxation Code sections 17274 and 24436.5; and/or any other enforcement method permitted by law.

8.44.090 Administrative regulations.

The City Manager is authorized and directed to promulgate administrative procedures pertaining to the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.

8.44.100 Program review.

The provisions of this chapter shall be reviewed by the city council three years after its effective date in order to determine the effectiveness of its provisions and its impact on the city general fund. At that time, the city council shall determine whether to continue, amend or repeal this chapter.”

SECTION 2. That this Ordinance shall be published in accordance with Government Code Section 36933 by either posting or publishing the Ordinance in accordance with that law. Further, the City Clerk is directed to cause Sections 1 this Ordinance to be entered in the City of Brentwood Municipal Code. This Ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days following its adoption.

SECTION 3. That if any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, the holding shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions, and the council declares that it would have adopted each provision of this ordinance irrespective of the validity of any other provision.

THE FOREGOING ORDINANCE was introduced with the first reading waived at a regular meeting of the Brentwood City Council on the 8th day of April 2008, by the following vote:


Residential Rental Inspection Process

1. A business license (payment of business tax) is required for all landlords. A Residential Rental Inspection Checklist will be mailed with the business license certificate. This checklist will outline code violations which the Code Enforcement Officer will look for during the inspection.

2. Inspections will be unannounced and conducted from the public right-of-way. Only conditions visible from the front of the property will be inspected.

3. Each unit will be inspected biannually unless a complaint is received or chronic conditions require additional attention.

4. Inspection time from start to finish is approximately one half hour for single family homes, and approximately one hour for apartments and multi-family sites.

5. If there are no violations, the rental unit(s) inspected will be scheduled for re-inspection in two (2) years.

6. If violations are identified, the Code Enforcement Officer will send the property owner a Courtesy Notice by US Mail.

7. When the property owner receives his/her Courtesy Notice by mail, it will list the violations on the property, along with written instructions explaining how to correct the violations. They will be given a deadline to complete the corrections along with written notice indicating the appeal process and the potential penalties if the violations are not corrected.

8. After the deadline for corrections, the Code Enforcement Officer will re-inspect the property and if the property violations have been corrected, the Code Enforcement Officer will send the property owner a letter indicating that the property was inspected and there is no longer a violation.

9. If the violations are not corrected (and the violations are not an immediate threat to public health and safety), the Code Enforcement Officer may issue an administrative citation in the amount of $100, give the property owner another notice of violation, and seven (7) days to cure the violations.

10. After the deadline for corrections, the Code Enforcement Officer will re-inspect the property and if the property violations have been corrected, the Code Enforcement Officer will send the property owner a letter indicating that the property was inspected and there is no longer a violation.

11. If the violations are not corrected (and the violations are not an immediate threat to public health and safety), the Code Enforcement Officer may issue an administrative citation in the amount of $250, give the property owner another notice of violation, and seven (7) days to cure the violations.

12. After the deadline for corrections, the Code Enforcement Officer will re-inspect the property and if the property violations have been corrected, the Code Enforcement Officer will send the property owner a letter indicating that the property was inspected and there is no longer a violation.

13. If the violations are not corrected (and the violations are not an immediate threat to public health and safety), the inspector may issue an administrative citation in the amount of $500, give the property owner another notice of violation, and seven (7) days to cure the violations.

14. This process is repeated until the violations are cured. If there are violations of the Property Maintenance Ordinance (landscaping issues), abatement action could be taken and the costs would be recovered from the property owner. The property would continue to be monitored to ensure compliance.

15. If the violation is not considered an immediate threat to public health and safety, the costs and/or penalties incurred would be billed to the property owner. In the case of non-payment, a lien is placed on the property to recover the costs from the property owner.

16. If at any time the violation is determined to be an immediate public health and safety issue, staff could proceed with a misdemeanor citation and/or abate the violation through the Nuisance Abatement Ordinance. All costs would be recovered from the property owner.

17. If at any time there is evidence that health and safety violations exist on the interior of the residence, the Code Enforcement Officer can contact the property owner and request to perform an interior inspection.

18. If the property owner refuses the Code Enforcement Officer’s interior inspection request, an inspection warrant must be obtained to grant access to the property.

19. The above process will serve as guidelines to the Code Enforcement Division. Specific procedures and time requirements may vary depending on the severity of the violation(s). In addition to the above enforcement tools, the rental inspection ordinance provides alternative methods of enforcement including, but not limited to, criminal and/or civil penalties; recordation of a notice of pending action; the provisions of Revenue and Taxation Code sections 17274 and 24436.5; and/or any other enforcement method permitted by law.






 
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