Monday, October 02, 2006

Geraghty Proposes Bigger Fines for Negligent Landlords
West End City Councilor Karen Geraghty has proposed an amendment to the City ordinances that would impose fines on owners of rental properties for certain “significant" code violations, including:

- unsanitary conditions such as vermin infestation;
-overcrowded conditions; major structural damage;
-blocked ingress and egress;
-damaged smoke or fire protection equipment;
-faulty plumbing or electrical systems; or the intentional denial of heat or electricity.

Under the current ordinance, all housing code violations are subject to a $100 minimum penalty, which is assessed only after the landlord fails to correct the problem. Under the proposed amendment, an immediate minimum $200 penalty could be assessed if the owner knew of the problem or should have known about it and failed to address it.

If the owner still fails to fix the problem after notice by the City, the minimum fines goes up to $500 per day. After a second notice, the minimum fine is $1,500 per day. The measure would replace the multifamily housing inspections program that the Council discussed but did not approve in September.

Geraghty is the Chair of the City Council’s Housing Committee, which reviewed and approved the proposed amendment.


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