Rogers City considers rental inspection rules

ROGERS CITY — An ordinance that would require rental units in Rogers City to register with the city and have an inspection completed every five years is being considered by THE City Council.

On Tuesday, council members agreed to schedule a public hearing for the ordinance at its July 16 meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 193 E. Michigan Ave.

The ordinance would allow an inspector to check rental units for compliance with “minimum property maintenance standards.” The inspector would check the conditions of the ceilings, walls and floors, look for electrical hazards, and ensure each unit has secure locks for its doors and windows.

The inspector would also make sure rental units are free from mold and any sort of infestation. They would also check the fire detector and ensure there is an alternate escape in case of a fire.

City Manager Joe Hefele said he, along with Zoning Administrator Toby Kuznicki, inventoried the apartments within the city limits. He said most of the landlords are doing a “very nice” job keeping their properties up.

But Hefele said that, as more and more rental units come to the city, officials need to do everything in their power to protect their property values.

“Rogers City’s calling card has always been, and continues to be, how the town looks,” he said. “There has been some slippage, and we need to stop it, because, once it goes away, we’ll never get it back.”

Under the proposed ordinance, all existing residential rental units would have 90 days from the adoption of the ordinance to register their property with the city at no cost to them. Owners of the rental units would have to provide their name, the addresses of all rental units they own, the number of units, and unit numbers for the registration.

Once the property has been registered with the city, Hefele said officials would complete an inspection of the rental. The inspection would cost $75.

“Failure to register a unit within the 90 days could be a municipal civil infraction, 500 bucks each day the violation continues,” he said, adding the other way a property owner could get cited is if they purposely give city officials bad information

Hefele said the fee would also cover the cost of one follow-up visit, if needed. If additional follow up visits are required, each additional inspection would cost $75. Rental unit owners would get their certificate of compliance when they pass the inspection. Copies of the certificate would also be provided to the tenants.

Permanent exemptions would include hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, homeless shelters, and units previously inspected by the federal government. Hefele told council members they might consider adding a clarification to the ordinance defining at what point a motel might be considered a residence.

Council began discussing the ordinance last fall, but had put it on the backburner while they addressed their long-term pension debt. The ordinance is modeled after similar ordinances that are in place in Alpena and Onaway.

Mayor Scott McLennan said the council should be “very proud” of the ordinance.

“It is not anything that is over the top, it is something that is basic, common-sense items, it’s keeping people safe in their rental units and, a lot of the times, those folks are afraid to say anything,” he said.

Councilman Dick Adair said it will be interesting to see what kind of feedback council would get from the community.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.