Landlords: Delay New Housing Rules

By Barton, Thomas J | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), January 31, 2016 | Go to article overview

Landlords: Delay New Housing Rules


Barton, Thomas J, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Some Dubuque landlords have called on city officials to slow a push for stricter housing code enforcement under a new set of property maintenance standards.

Carol Copeland is broker-owner of Executive Management & Real Estate Ltd. Copeland worries the city`s push to crack down on so- called "slumlords" will come at the detriment of responsible rental property owners, who could be saddled with expensive renovations to historic properties.

"We`re dealing with historic properties that can be 150 years old, so therein lies the rub," Copeland said. "Before we throw the baby out with bathwater ... we want time to examine the proposed code so we are completely aware" of possible implications.

The city`s Housing Commission voted Tuesday to recommend City Council members adopt an international property maintenance code to provide stricter housing code enforcement.

The code regulates the minimum maintenance standards for basic equipment, lighting, ventilation, heating, sanitation and fire safety.

City officials said it is needed to create a uniform standard to ensure quality housing and rid neighborhoods of nuisance properties. The current housing code was adopted in the 1970s, and though it periodically has been updated over the years, it hasn`t been brought in line with industry standards, officials said.

City code only addresses life-safety issues and has no provisions related to general property upkeep, according to Alvin Nash, the city`s housing and community development director. However, the international property maintenance code specifies repairs and maintenance be done in a "workmanlike" manner, he said.

"We need something to do a little more," Nash said. "... I know a bad situation when I see it, but I can`t enforce on it."

More than 600 communities, including several in Iowa, have adopted the code, and it is widely recognized by state and federal agencies, lending institutions, investment and development groups, City Manager Mike Van Milligen said. …

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