Apartment Inspection Reform Legislation Introduced
New legislation to help reform the multifamily rental property inspection provisions of the Housing Law of Michigan has been introduced in the Michigan Senate. Senate Bill 1168, sponsored by Senator David Robertson (R-26th District) at the request of AAM, addresses numerous problems apartment owners are currently encountering with local inspection programs. The legislation has the following four primary components:
• Limits on Inspection Fees – The statute’s current language requiring inspection fees “not exceed the actual, reasonable cost of providing the inspection” is too nebulous. Wide disparities are seen in the fees charged by communities, with some municipalities clearly viewing apartment inspection programs as a revenue opportunity. AAM proposes to limit the fee that may be charged by a local government to no more than $40 per unit or no more than $75 per building. The first reinspection would be included in the charge.
• Reform Inspection Timeframes – Municipalities covered by this act are currently required to inspect multifamily rental properties at least once every four years, with the option of enacting an ordinance to increase the timeframe to no longer than six years. AAM proposes to amend these provisions to increase the timeframe between inspections to six to 10 years. By extending the time required between inspection cycles, the local government is given more flexibility to spread out the program costs while still monitoring the quality of the rental housing stock. This will also help to limit the intrusion on residents, the vast majority of whom refuse an inspection if given the choice. Local governments can still issue inspections based upon complaints as needed, and apartment owners are rewarded for maintaining their property.
• Limits on Registration Fees – Typically, registration is simply the act of the property owner filling out a short form detailing the owner’s name/contact information and property location/management information. Yet, some local governments are requiring significant registration fees on a per unit or per building basis in conjunction with their inspection cycle (usually every two to three years). These fees bear no relation to the expense the local government incurs – which is virtually nothing – to keep the registration on file, nor do the way fees are structured (per unit/per building) relate to the information collected (general property information). AAM is proposing to limit what the local enforcing agency may charge to no more than $100 per owner, and allow that charge to cover the property as long as there is no ownership change.
• Application of Law to Townships – The scope of the act relating to multifamily rental housing currently does not include most townships. The proposed legislation updates this to include townships so they are governed in the same way as cities and villages.
AAM thanks Sen. Robertson for his leadership in sponsoring this bill.