This Bucket's Got a Hole In It & I Can't Swim (Part 3)
In the ongoing conversation concerning rental housing, code enforcement, neighborhood property values, and health & safety issues I think now is the time to explore requirements are currently in place and the why, when & who of enforcing them (or not).
Under Title IX; General Regulations of the City of New Albany Code of Ordinances ----------------------------------, http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Indiana/newalb/cityofnewalbanyincodeofordinances?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:newalbany_in
We find what should be the control mechanisms for many of our ongoing rental property offenses such as abandoned vehicles, stray animals, Hazmat,
Fire prevention, noise control, nuisance, etc.
So let’s look a few of these and try to find some answers as to why these problems still exist.
Fire prevention is a good place to start as it is a constant concern of mine. With the close proximity of homes in many of our older neighborhoods recent history has proven that if one home catches fire and is not reported immediately, that fire is going to spread to at least one other home adjacent to it.
§ 94.02 BUREAU OF FIRE PREVENTION; ESTABLISHMENT AND DUTIES.
(A) The Fire Prevention Code shall be enforced by the Bureau of Fire Prevention in the Fire Department of the city, which is established and which shall be operated under the supervision of the Chief of the Fire Department.
(E) The Bureau of Fire Prevention shall investigate the causes of fires within the limits of the city and make such reports as it deems advisable to the Chief of the Fire Department. The Bureau shall also issue a written notice to persons suspected of violating the provisions of this chapter, and give a copy of such notice to the City Attorney for appropriate action in the city court.
Question; Does this bureau exists and is it currently active?
§ 94.41 SMOKE DETECTORS REQUIRED.
Subject to the exceptions and conditions for compliance as stated herein, six months after the effective date of this subchapter, smoke detectors shall be required in all dwellings rented for occupancy. Dwellings meeting the State Uniform Building Code fire detection standards shall not be required to install smoke detectors.
('71 Code, §155.31) (Ord. G-81-888, passed 4-6-81)
§ 94.43 PROVIDING, INSTALLING, AND MAINTAINING SMOKE DETECTORS.
(A) The owner of a dwelling shall be responsible for supplying and installing in an operable condition the required detectors and for providing the manufacturer's maintenance and testing instructions to a tenant when appropriate. The owner of a dwelling shall be responsible for maintenance and testing of detectors, in accordance with manufacturer's instructions, which are located in common areas or detectors in dwelling units or rooming units where the occupancy of any one tenant is for less than one month.
(B) The tenant in any occupancy of one month or more shall be responsible for maintaining and testing the detector, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, which are within his exclusive control during the life of the tenancy. The tenant shall be responsible for notifying the owner in writing by registered mail when a detector becomes inoperable, whereafter the owner has ten days in which to repair or replace in operable condition the detector. In the battery operated type of detector, battery replacement shall be the responsibility of the tenant. At every change of tenancy, where the occupancy of any one tenant is of one month or more, it shall be the duty of the owner to test and ascertain that those detectors contained in the unit are in operable condition, and if not, the owner shall be responsible for placing them in operable condition.
('71 Code, §155.33) (Ord. G-81-888, passed 4-6-81)
§ 94.44 RESPONSIBILITY FOR ENFORCEMENT.
The Fire Prevention Bureau of the city shall be primarily responsible for the enforcement of this subchapter. The Building Inspector shall assist the Bureau of Fire Prevention by making referrals to the Bureau as part of its regular inspection and enforcement of all city housing, building, and safety codes.
('71 Code, §155.34) (Ord. G-81-888, passed 4-6-81)
§ 94.45 CONFLICTING PROVISIONS.
In any case where a provision of this subchapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any fire or safety code of the city, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of health and safety shall prevail.
('71 Code, §155.35) (Ord. G-81-888, passed 4-6-81)
§ 94.99 PENALTY.
(A) Any person who violates any of the provisions of the code hereby adopted or fails to comply therewith, or who violates or fails to comply with any order made thereunder, or who builds in violation of any detailed statement of specifications or plans submitted and approved thereunder, or any certificate or permit issued thereunder, and from which no appeal has been taken, or who fails to comply with an order as affirmed or modified by the Board of Public Works and Safety or by a court of competent jurisdiction within the time fixed herein, shall severally for each and every violation and noncompliance respectively, be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than $5 nor more than $100. The imposition of one penalty for any violation does not excuse the violation or permit it to continue. Such persons shall be required to correct or remedy the violations or defects within a reasonable time, and when not otherwise specified, each ten days that prohibited conditions are maintained shall constitute a separate offense.
(B) The application of the above penalty shall not be held to prevent the enforced removal of prohibited conditions.
('71 Code, §155.99) (Ord. G-65-232, passed 11-1-65; Am. Ord. G-81-888, passed 4-6-81)
Question; Are the smoke detector ordinances being currently enforced by this bureau?
Indiana Code Title 32 Article 31 deals with landlord/ tenant issues;
Is there any mechanism in place at the city level to enforce or follow up on these issues? If so who? If not, why not?
In the conversations I’ve had with those folks related to both the fire department and the health department, I’ve been left with the impression that if we’re talking about a commercial enterprise or a public place, they can both intervene at will without notice.
However, when it comes to a private residence, they are reluctant to do so for fear of individual rights violations being levied against them.
So here are the follow-up questions;
Are we as a city content with not having preventative measures in place but rather condone waiting for property and innocent lives being endangered or lost before taking action?
Is not renting homes as living spaces just as much of a commercial enterprise as renting lawn mowing equipment, hospital beds, or automobiles?
And if that be true, should it not be regulated as such?
As detailed in my previous postings on the subject, other cities all over this state have done so successfully.
Why is it that New Albany feels it is somehow unique and immune from serving its citizens best interests?
Alas I feel the answer is as has always been. Greed and personal ambition. Follow the money!!
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