City once pursued inspection program
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Last year, the council made an effort to have better oversight of apartments, condominiums and rental properties--an issue brought forth by neighborhood groups.
Brooke Mahoney, President of the Austin Apartment Association, was involved in the original discussions.
"It was more about absentee landlords and properties basically being run down and code enforcement having trouble getting in touch with those landlords," she said.
Mahoney says the conversation quickly focused on large complexes. Plus, property managers would have had to pay an annual fee to cover the cost of the added manpower and would be billed per each unit.
"We've heard that even those cities that pay inspection fees, the inspections themselves are not happening,” Mahoney said. “That is certainly a tragedy."
Code Compliance Director Carl Smart says in this latest push, the annual fee is off the table, as well as a requirement to have all landlords keep updated contact records with the city.
"Ultimately, the responsibility is the owner to make sure they provide safe, healthy living conditions for the residents," Smart said.
Smart says with more inspectors the department could be proactive, rather than wait for complaints to come in. The goal is to head-off problems like inspectors uncovered at Woodridge Apartments last week.
After an elevated walkway partially collapsed, inspectors found all 15 walkways don't meet code. Mahoney is not convinced more manpower would have helped.
"I think any sort of rental registration or inspection program may not have prevented this specific incident," Mahoney said.
Mahoney says that's because the 40-year-old complex might not be considered the worst of the worst by inspectors at first glance.