Archived Story

Montevallo to consider new property maintenance codes

Published 11:36am Thursday, July 18, 2013

By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The Montevallo City Council will hold a public hearing on Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. regarding new property maintenance codes the council is considering adopting.

The proposed codes are being considered by the council due to complaints from residents about properties not being maintained properly. The current codes have been difficult for the city to enforce, said Montevallo City Clerk Herman Lehman, another reason the city is considering adopting new codes.

Lehman said there are already codes in place for building new constructions, but more needs to be done to make sure properties are still up to code several years after they are built. Lehman said this is particularly important regarding rental properties.

“If a property was built in 1970, it may have been built and met code in 1970, but today it may be worn and in some instances may present a health and safety hazard for the occupants,” Lehman said. “If we’ve got people out there renting houses, we need to make sure that they are in good condition and that they are livable. If it’s important enough to do it at the beginning, it’s important to maintain it over the long haul as well.”

With the proposed code, rental property owners would be required to have an inspector look at the property before it could be re-leased, Lehman said. Non-rental properties or properties that aren’t being released would not need to be inspected, Lehman said. New constructions would still be required to meet building codes that are already in place.

The cost for the inspection would fall to the property owner, but Lehman said the cost is still unknown because the proposed codes have not been adopted yet.

“The cost is something that still has to be determined,” Lehman said. “It couldn’t be set so high that it would be cost prohibitive. It would be some nominal-type fee that would be enough to offset our cost of hiring someone to do (the inspections).”

Feedback has been mixed, and some residents have been concerned that rental rates would rise if the new codes were adopted.

“I’ve talked to a couple of people, and once we sit down and kind of go through stuff, they realize we’re not trying to work at odds with people. We’re just trying to work with them,” Lehman said. “What this law would do is present a level playing field for everybody and require that the standards be raised for everybody. It would also ensure that people who rent, especially people with lower incomes who have less choice, aren’t subjected to living standards that are inadequate.”

Lehman said the best time for people to voice concerns is at the Aug. 26 public hearing.

“If people have specific questions, (we hope they’ll) provide us with those specific questions so we can address them. We try to get specific feedback so we can make it work,” he said.

The code is available for the public to read at Cityofmontevallo.org. The city council has the option of voting on the proposed codes at the Aug. 26 hearing, though Lehman said he expected the city would take more time to discuss the issue before taking a vote.

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