Austin city leaders say they don't want a repeat of what happened at the Wood Ridge apartment complex in southeast Austin. That's where a walkway collapsed last May.
Further inspection at Wood Ridge uncovered hundreds of violations. In the end, the property managers had to close four buildings.
"Everybody agrees that there needs to be more proactive enforcement when we are dealing with these issues with multi-family housing," Matt Christianson, a code compliance officer said.
The city's latest approach is to routinely inspect properties with a history of code violations. City leaders are targeting three of the most problematic parts of town -- Hyde Park, East Riverside and Rundberg.
All landlords in those areas would be required to register with the city and allow annual inspections of their properties.
"We have got to make that process pretty straight forward, pretty easy to get taken care of and get them into the program," said Tim Hill, Austin Building and Standards Commission.
Council member Bill Spelman estimates it will affect nearly 40,000 apartments and duplexes.
The Building and Standards commissioners worry the city's bigger property managers may refuse to register for the mandatory program, fearing an inspection would bring about fines.
Hill said even a sampling of a handful of units poses a problem.
"I guarantee you are going to find five violations in those five units,” Hill said. “Automatically--before given any opportunity to make any corrections--he is in."
A lawyer for the city said failing to register would mean those apartments could not be legally rented, putting more pressure on a market that has 98 percent occupancy.
"What impact is that going to have on the affordability of housing in Austin, and ultimately what is going to happen to those tenants that are going to be displaced?" Daniel Gonzalez, of the Austin Building and Standards Commission, said.
These are concerns the commissioners are considering as the city council tries to find ways to prevent problems before they happen.
In the next few weeks the program will be tweaked before it goes to the Austin City Council for a vote.