July 18, 2024

Landlords fight rental inspection proposal

After Creston City Hall announced two meetings regarding a rental property inspection proposal, area landlords shared their displeasure at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

According to this proposal, all owners of rental property were to comply with city rental code standards. All property owners shall submit an application and registration fee requesting a rental certificate. Upon receipt of an application (informational packet), the landowner contacts the contracted inspector. The contracted inspector conducts an inspection of the premises. When the property passes the requirements outlined in the city ordinance and adopted codes, the contractor saves the information to the shared calendar with the city.

Loretta Harvey shared her displeasure regarding communication.

“That matter was tabled back on December 20 and we have not received any other communication from the city since then,” Harvey said. “We haven’t gotten any post cards, any mailing, any phone calls as to when these information meetings were going to be. In reviewing the post that’s out on Facebook and reviewing what the media has shared, it appears that Jason VanAusdall was already contracted by the city of Creston, as he’s the one that we’re supposed to direct questions to.”

She argued the city shouldn’t be able to require landlords to use specific inspectors.

“There was a memorandum of understanding that was reviewed back in 2022. Was that document signed? Is a memorandum of understanding a contract with this man,” Harvey asked. “If the city’s going to mandate who we have doing the inspections of the rental properties, what else are you going to mandate? Are you going to tell me which bank I can go to, which insurance agent I need to go to? What contractors I’m supposed to use, such as contractors, electricians, plumbers? What else am I going to be told to do?”

Harvey said if the proposal goes through, the landlords won’t be able to afford owning a rental.

“I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about having a rental inspection or rentals out there to worry about,” Harvey said. “Most of the people here tonight aren’t going to be able to afford rentals anymore with the kind of costs that they’re expecting to pay with the rental inspections, with inspection after inspection after inspection, you’re not going to have to worry about housing.”

Tom Spencer also shared his thoughts about the proposal.

“We wanted to talk about making this program affordable for the landlords, the tenants, and making it maybe a little bit lucrative for the city,” Spencer said. “But when I have to write a check to a third-party inspector that’s going to take his money back to wherever he lives... We don’t have a dog in the fight.”

Spencer argued the rental inspector should be from the Creston area.

“Is it too late to repeal this man’s contract? Let’s think about that,” Spencer said. “I want to see the money stay here. We talked about Bobby Wintermute doing a great job in our community, I can’t believe he’s too busy to fit these rental properties in since we didn’t have anybody doing his job up until this point. Let’s talk about the money staying here. That’s one of my biggest complaints.”

Spencer also was unhappy with the recent property reassessments.

“With our current reassessments, I’ve got properties that are going to have to increase rent $100 a month. We continue to add fees with these inspections, repairs,” Spencer said. “Are we trying to price people out of rental properties here in Creston? That’s the question. Our rents are high right now, I don’t want to have to increase my rent, but when I have to call somebody and tell them I’m going to have to increase your rent $100 a month and I see $0 of that, it goes to the county… I’m telling you, I’m pleading with you to understand.”

Russ Wood reiterated this sentiment.

“Every one of my tenants live paycheck to paycheck. No doubt about it, every one of my tenants do,” Wood said. “If we raise it, because I just got the letters yesterday on raising the property taxes, well $100 a month? It’s going to be more than that and they can’t afford it. Everyone of my tenants cannot afford the rental increase.”

No one in favor of the proposal shared their thoughts.

More discussion will be held at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 on the first floor of the city of Creston Restored Depot Meal Site, at 116 West Adams Street. All meetings will cover the same material and will be open to the public. Landlords are not required to attend the meetings, but are encouraged.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.