Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apartment Ordinance 2.0

Houston is finally going to do periodic inspections of apartments! This is great news for everyone; not just tenants in apartments.

But as great as this is, it should be considered “Apartment Ordinance 1.0.” The biggest area for improvement is that the ordinance requires the inspection of ALL apartments every four years. Brand new apartments are on the same schedule as older complexes.

I hope the City comes back and writes “Apartment Ordinance 2.0,” so older apartments are inspected more frequently. It could be a graduated schedule, based on a “clock” that starts from the apartments’ original certificate of occupancy:

The first inspection could happen 10 years after the original C of O.

The second, after 15 years.

The third, after 18 years.

The fourth, after 21 years.

The fifth, after 24 years.

After the fifth inspection, the property is inspected every 2 years.

“Apartment Ordinance 2.0” could encourage apartment owners to do the right thing. Owners could reset the clock on a property if they temporarily close the property, and do a gut renovation. They could stop the clock by enrolling the property in HPD’s Blue Star program.

The new inspections are a great thing. Apartments have to meet basic standards of habitability and safety – and now those rules will be enforced! It’s also great that it’s not complaint driven. Apartment owners won’t blame neighbors when their properties are inspected. But as with anything new, there is room for a “Version 2.0”.

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