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Estherville Committee continues work on minimal rental housing standards

Progress is slow but steady on proposed rules

November 13, 2010
By David Swartz - Managing Editor

The Estherville Rental Housing Committee continued its task of working to create a minimum set of standards for rental housing on Wednesday.

The committee was formed earlier this year and consists of city officials, including city administrator Penny Clayton and councilmen Dave Seylar and John Wittneben, landlords and a representative from Emmet County Public Health.

As the proposed rental housing ordinance draft reads, the purpose is to establish minimum requirements for residential rent structures to be fit for human habitation occupancy or se. It should also protect, preserve and promote the physical health and social well-being of the people and to prevent and control the incidence of communicable diseases, to reduce environmental hazards to health, to regular rental dwellings for the purpose of maintaining adequate sanitation and to protect the safety of the people.

Once the committee has a complete draft of these minimal rental housing regulations, they will submit it to the city council for its approval.

But that step is still in the future as the committee continues to work up a document that is fair to all.

On Wednesday, the committee reviewed language regarding infestations.

Clayton submitted a copy of Ames city ordinance language on exterminations that the committee agreed would work for Estherville.

For any insect and rodent infestations in a structure prior to renting, the owner is responsible for extermination.

In multiple occupancy units, the owner is responsible for extermination in the public or shared of the structure and exterior property. If infestation is caused by failure of an occupant to prevent such infestation in the area occupied, the occupant is responsible for extermination. The exception is when the infestations are caused by defects in the structure, and then the owner is responsible.

One contentious issue is inspections.

Committee members have debated how often inspections should take place and who should do them.

During Wednesdays meeting, the committee discussed having the landlord and a tenant each complete a checklist to determine any concerns every three years and at the beginning of any rental agreement.

The checklist would be turned into the city offices and any discrepancies would have to be addressed.

Ideally, the discrepancies would be resolved by the landlord without any action needed by the city.

Otherwise, city officials will require that a certified inspector examine the rental unit, paid for at the landlord's expense.

The committee will continue its discussion about inspections and revising the rental housing ordinance draft at its next meeting, tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2.



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