& Development Services
David L. Corliss, City
Planning and Development
January 9, 2014
At the December 17, 2013 City
Commission meeting, the Commission directed staff to draft an ordinance to
expand the current licensing and inspection program that would include the code
authority of Draft 1 and many of the other elements of Draft 2. The following
is provided for the Commission’s consideration:
1. Ordinance 8840 (Draft 3)
2. Draft Revised Administrative
Regulations, including the following appendices to the regulations:
a. Draft Rental License Application
b. Draft Rental License
c. Draft Inspection
Form/Checklist Reflecting Ordinance 8840 Draft 3
d. Draft Consent for Inspection
e. Draft educational information
The following further explains the
attachments noted above:
Ordinance 8840 (Draft 3)
- This ordinance reflects
direction to inspect against the International Property Maintenance Code
and Land Development Code.
- It maintains the following
elements from Draft 2:
- Revising the recitals/purpose
of the program.
- Requiring that inspectors be
certified to perform their duties.
- Proposing a new definition for
“Qualified Vacant Unit” and setting a policy to inspect such units as a
priority of the inspection process.
- Incorporating the license
application, inspection checklist, and consent form as attachments to the
Administrative Regulations that the governing body promulgates.
- Adding a requirement for staff
to present specific evidence when alleging fraud or misrepresentation of
a license application.
- Re-inserting the 15-unit cap
on the number of units to inspect owned by a licensee.
- Requiring at least 72 hours of
notice to enter with consent or with the granting of an administrative
- Providing authorization for
staff to accept alternative means of satisfying the code requirements
where it may be technically difficult to otherwise to comply.
- Clarifying responsibility for
adhering to occupancy limits.
- Clarifying elements of the
appeal and revocation process.
- Establishing an educational
element, new since the Draft 2 version, requiring the city’s contact
information to be provided to tenants so that tenants are educated on
when and who to call if the property is not being adequately maintained.
- The Administrative Regulations
have been revised to reflect the proposed ordinance changes included in
Draft 3 and to incorporate the appendices as required of the ordinance.
- Application – A draft
application is provided that captures owner and property information in order
to issue the license. Per previous City Commission direction related to
the RS-based program, the application requires a landlord to acknowledge
the occupancy limits and inform their tenants of such. Staff provides a
form as part of the application process for landlords’ use to complete
this aspect of the program. The form has been revised to account for the
congregate living use, which varies with site plan approval.
- Rental License – This is the
document that will be provided to the licensee.
- Inspection Form/Checklist – The
inspection checklist is useful in several ways: it provides notice to
landlords and tenants of the list of possible code violations, it aids the
inspectors in identifying potential code violations, and it serves as the
official notice of violation to the landlord or tenant if a violation
exists. The checklist associated with Ordinance 8840 Draft 3 has been
revised to cover a few more of the code standards of the Property
Maintenance Code and to clarify when certain standards would be minor and
- Consent form – A draft consent
form is provided to reflect the city’s request of tenants to provide
written consent to allow entry to complete any inspections. This form
will be requested as each inspection of a unit is scheduled.
- Educational Notice – The
Commission directed staff to establish a consistent method for informing
tenants of their opportunity to contact the city if minimum housing
standards are not met. While a placard affixed in a conspicuous way
inside the unit was discussed, staff believes that this effort can be
implemented through means that do not cause intrusion into the unit’s
interior. Staff proposes that a mailing from the city occur each
September to every dwelling unit that includes a link to web-based information
related to the rental licensing program, including contact information if
a tenant wishes to request an inspection. The substance of the web-based
information is included in Appendix E of the Administrative Regulations.
At the December 17, 2013 City
Commission meeting, information was requested on the issues below.
- Measuring performance – from
staff’s perspective, the program is successful if the housing stock in
Lawrence is being maintained to minimum levels. With this in mind, the following
will be considered useful data by which to gauge the program’s efficacy:
- Number of units licensed per
- Number of initial unit
inspections per year.
- Number of follow-up
inspections per year.
- Number of violations found in
total and average number of violations per unit.
- Total number of major
- Total number of minor
- Number of violations
- Number of violations not
corrected and therefore needed to be litigated.
- Number of tenant and/or
neighbor complaints received outside of required program inspections.
- Number (or percentage) of
required program dwelling unit inspections for which inspection consent
was not voluntarily obtained.
- Written policies and procedures
– Ordinance 8840 and the Administrative Regulations contain the primary
substance of the program – license and inspection schedules, notice
requirements, fees, etc.; however, a manual that outlines more detailed
policies and procedures will need to be created subsequent to adoption to
address the myriad of implementation details and to help train inspection
and administrative staff. This is a document that will need to be
flexible as staff and the landlords fine tune the practices over time.
- Reporting to the Commission and
public – Staff intends to submit regular reports to the Commission on the
program outcomes, including an annual report on the budget aspect of the
program to maintain the program in a way where fees pay for the service
- Staffing and cost of program – It
has been reported in previous memos that Staff calculates that three new
inspectors and two administrative assistants will be required to implement
the program expansion at a total cost of the program of approximately $385,000,
though expenses for the five new personnel will be approximately $335,000.
In the 2014 budget, $385,000 was approved in order to reflect the total
cost of the program, though Staff believes the actual expenditures for the
first year will not exceed $335,000. The substantive changes in the
program since calculating the staffing levels and costs of the program
include revising the sample size from individual properties to owners,
creating a tiered system for the licensing fee, lowering the threshold for
a unit to reach the incentive, and extending the inspection cycle for the
incentive from 5 to 6 years. While these changes do lower the assumed
projected income for the program, the reduction will not be fully known
until all units are licensed and a few years of inspections occur. Staff
recommends adopting the ordinance with the proposed fee schedule and
including the budget implications of the program in the periodic reports
to the commission.
Approve Ordinance No. 8840, if