Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Does city need better apartment inspections?

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Greg Peck
February 14, 2013

The city council heard plenty of negative reaction from Janesville landlords over a proposal to charge $30 annual fees per rental unit for regular annual inspections. Some landlords suggested that the plan would invade private property and likened it to Big Brother, the all-powerful authoritarian government described in George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

City staffers now inspect rental properties only after receiving complaints. Jennifer Petruzzello, neighborhood services director, said that, each day, inspectors find problems including broken pipes, heating failures, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that don’t work.

A staff memo suggested a $30 fee would yield enough revenue to hire four more staffers. The inspections would ensure safety and improve the city’s housing stock.

At Monday’s meeting, most council members said they wouldn’t support additional inspections and fees. The council voted 5-2 to direct city staff to review existing practices and look for ways to improve the system.

Was this a good decision? Do you think being reactive rather than proactive lets the city inspection system ensure safety for tenants and keep the city’s housing stock at a reasonable level?

We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Friday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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