Saline Rental Housing Certification Program Causes Homeowner Concerns

Landlords in Saline are facing the potential inspection requirements for all rental units, as well as the associated fees due to newly established city regulations under the Rental Housing Certification Program. Some fees will include registration and inspection, while others will be subject per unit specific updates. Property owners in the city are being asked to register their rental apartments and properties, which are home to approximately one quarter (24%) of households in Saline. Though the city agenda ensures the program is for safety and comfort to tenants, many long-standing residential owners are dissatisfied.

Units are set to be inspected every two to three years, and to comply with the property maintenance code. During the inspection, officials will check for the presence of smoke alarms, sufficient lighting, plumbing, proper ventilation and more. The program's six step process includes: legislative evaluation, legislative adoption, landlord outreach, property registration, property inspection, property certification. Public debate to adopt the ordinance, took six months with five open discussions, and approval was finalized on November 2nd, 2022. The ordinance is still currently in Phase 3, landlord outreach.

A town hall meeting on the matter took place on Thursday, February 2nd, 2023, with numerous landlords in attendance. Council member Mike Radzik and Community Development Director, Ben Harrington, seemed up against it. Pushback and frustration filled the room against the ordinance as property owners challenged the program. Some voiced their displeasure at only recently being informed of the new regulations through letters sent to owners of more than 650 apartment units and over 300 single-family homes that may be affected. One Saline homeowner in the audience stated, “This absolutely penalizes people that completely take care of their property.” In addition to existing costs and taxes for owners, some shared concerns that the program may lead to higher rents for tenants to help balance costs.

The average single-family home for renters in Saline, is $1959.00, with the average apartment cost at $1395.00, according to data pulled by the city. The main hopes for the program are that landlords won’t neglect necessary repairs and should work to fix any problems that arise promptly. The city looks to secure and advocate for a tenant safe living environment, “I've done numerous programs of this nature,” said Radzik, “thank you for being good landlords in the city of Saline, you are very much needed.”

It seems that the city has an all or nothing approach when evaluating living standards in the area and will be trying to keep the balance with all communication issues on the program. Harrington stated that there have been problems in Saline where tenants have not been given the rights they deserve and feel scared to speak out. City member Janet Dillon complimented the landlords on having housing that was secure and livable. The city has been taking individual action in response to complaints about property management, but the new regulations could be used to focus on properties that are causing issues. The program will not be a source of income for the city, as it only generates enough money to cover its expenses. The rules will determine how quickly problems must be fixed, depending on if they are a safety hazard or not.

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