Rental Housing Inspection Program

After hearing from a number of residents, I have come to the conclusion that the program needs a thorough evaluation. The City needs to make sure that it is not causing unintended negative consequences.  That is why I voted to have it placed back on the Council agenda in March 2017.  The City needs to make sure that it is not causing unintended negative consequences.

In May of 2015, I supported the program out of my concern for tenants living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions because of landlord neglect. But since then, serious questions have arisen about the actual effect the ordinance is having on the community. We need more information about the program’s practical effect in order to decide if it should continue in its present form.

The RHIP program was part of the 2013-15 Neighborhood Wellness Major City Goal. It addresses impacts on the community resulting from our previously unregulated, purely complaint-driven “status quo.” The unregulated situation has resulted in steadily increasing rental rates, rising numbers of conversion of single family homes to rental units (well over 60%), and deteriorating living conditions in rentals. Lucrative, unregulated rentals have arguably contributed to rising home prices and rents, sadly shutting out many permanent residents and first time home buyers from the SLO market.

Renting is a profitable business, and business license and program fees are a cost of doing business. Cities routinely regulate all kinds of businesses, and rental inspection programs like ours, with tenant opt-out provisions, have been upheld by the courts as constitutional. Landlords have legal, civic and moral responsibilities to provide their tenants with habitable dwellings.

Unfortunately, some landlords regard their rentals as sources of income only. They do not want to spend anything on maintenance. Tenants, especially student-age people, often fear speaking up about repairs, or asserting their rights.