Roeland Park approves mandatory rental housing inspection program for both exterior and interior

Becky Fast, who was missing from the July vote, voted in favor of the anti-discrimination ordinance Monday.
Becky Fast, shown at an earlier council meeting, was the council champion for the rental housing inspection program.

After some months of discussion, Roeland Park has approved a rental inspection program that allows both exterior and interior inspections of single-family houses and apartment units.

The mandatory inspections are scheduled to start in January 2016 with the next months used to make tenants and landlords aware of the coming inspection process. Currently, all of the city’s multi-family housing stock is located at the Boulevard Apartments.

The city council approved the new rental inspection program on a 6-1 vote with Councilor Ryan Kellerman opposed. Kellerman read a lengthy note from a rental property owner objecting to the new program. Kellerman also said he believed the ordinance to be unenforceable.

Councilor Becky Fast, who has been the council champion of the inspection program said similar programs in neighboring cities have resulted in increased home values and reduced code violations. Fast said she promoted the program because she had heard from many tenants in Ward 1 who have had housing issues. She said the goal is to make Roeland Park a community where “everyone wants to live.”

For both singe-family and multi-family housing, either the tenant or owner can request an interior or exterior inspection by the neighborhood services department at any time. For single-family houses or duplexes, the exterior inspection will still be conducted every year when the license application or renewal is submitted. Exterior inspections already are done annually.

The interior inspections will be made when the house becomes vacant and it is the responsibility of the landlord to notify the city of the vacancy. The single-family inspections will be carried out before the house can be occupied by a new tenant and will be done in the presence of the owner.

For multi-family housing, neighborhood services will start a systematic selection process designed for each apartment to get an interior and exterior inspection once every four years.

The interior inspections will focus on common life safety issues, according to city staff. The city now licenses 280 single-family rentals and 400 multi-family units, making the city housing stock 22 percent rental.