Under a proposed DeKalb County ordinance, the interior of all multi-family dwellings and apartment units would have to be inspected regularly before the complex’s business license is issued or renewed.
DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader said the apartment inspections are needed to address “unsafe living conditions in apartments.”
“Sometimes the property owners don’t adequately maintain their properties,” Rader said. “If a unit doesn’t have a smoke detector, or has a faulty HVAC system…it could be a genuine hazard.”
The proposed Interior Code Compliance Ordinance cites crime and the decline of property values as negative results of unmaintained rental units.
Under the ordinance, owners would be required to have their rental units inspected as a condition of getting a business license. During the first year of complying with the ordinance, all units in a complex would be inspected and in subsequent years 20 percent of the units would be inspected. Complexes that are less than five years old would be exempt. The inspections would be performed by third party inspectors who would ensure that the interior of rental units meet “state minimum standard codes,” the ordinance states.
The county’s Planning and Development Department has come up with a 17-point checklist for inspecting multi-family dwellings. If approved, the items the inspectors will check include whether:
• The flooring is impervious in kitchen and bath areas.
• Heating facilities are in working order with no unvented heating appliances in sleeping rooms.
• Required smoke detector devices are in place.
• Plumbing facilities including kitchen sink, lavatory, tub or shower, and water closet are clean, sanitary and are in good working order.
• Electrical outlets and light fixtures are in good working order with proper covers and no exposed wiring.
• Both interior and exterior doors, jams and hardware are functional.
• Interior and exterior stairs are in good working order with protective railing.
• There is the proper number of residents per bedroom as required by law.
• Extermination is needed.
• Exit requirements, unobstructed means of egress leading to safe and open space.
• There is no excessive trash, rubbish or similar items.
Rader said the cities of Sandy Springs, Roswell and Dunwoody already have similar ordinances.
Dunwoody’s version of the ordinance has been in effect for about five months and the city has been getting “a lot of good, positive feedback,” said Michael Nier, Dunwoody’s chief building official.
In one Dunwoody complex, inspectors identified a sprinkler system that was turned off. The complex fixed the problem within a week. Less than three weeks later there was a fire in the complex that was contained by the repaired sprinkler system.
Apartment complexes have up to 180 days to fix the problems unless there is an imminent safety concern, Nier said.
The Board of Commissioners is expected to revisit the ordinance during its Dec. 14 meeting.