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(A) No owner of real estate within the city shall permit it to be leased for any purpose that includes any person using the premises as their living quarters, until a registration receipt covering each rental unit in the building has been obtained. If any property is being sold on contract and/or quitclaim deed, the owner shall provide a copy of the recorded contract and/or quitclaim deed to the Building Department to avoid responsibility for registration.
(B) A registration receipt shall be obtained by applying for the receipt at the City Building Department, and by paying an annual registration fee for a parcel of real estate upon which a rental unit(s) is located, or an annual registration fee for each hotel or rooming house. The initial registration fee shall be submitted at the time the application is made.
(1) At the time application is made, the owner of the real estate shall supply the Building Department with the name and physical address of the owner, the street address of the property being registered, the nature and use of the rental building, its number of units, and the name and physical address of any property manager.
(2) The owner of a property whose physical address is not within the state must appoint an agent or property manager residing within 30 miles of the property. The failure to appoint an agent or property manager is a separate violation. An agent or property manager must be at least 21 years of age. The agent or property manager must be available to government officials by telephone 24 hours a day. The owner’s failure to make certain that the agent or property manager is available and maintains the property will result in a $500 civil penalty for each parcel in violation. Post office box numbers are not acceptable.
(3) For any dwelling in which the owner does not reside, the name, address and telephone number of the owner, or his or her agent or responsible person, if any, shall be:
(a) Supplied in writing to the occupants of the dwelling; and
(b) Posted in a public or prominent place on the premises, visible from outside the structure, or in the alternative, provided to the City Building Department. The information shall be legible, accurate, and kept up-to-date. Post office box numbers are not acceptable.
(C) An inspection officer may conduct an inspection of each rental unit if the Building Department has reason to believe, or receives a complaint, that the rental unit does not comply with all requirements of this section, any other applicable ordinance, and all applicable state laws.
(1) The inspection will not be made if the rental unit meets the exception provided in I.C. 36-l-20-4.1(c).
(2) The owner or the owner’s representative shall be entitled to 72 hours written notice from the inspection officer prior to conducting the inspection.
(3) In the event that the owner, or the tenant if occupied, refuses to allow the inspection officer to conduct the inspection, the inspection officer or appointed agent shall apply for a warrant to make the inspection pursuant to the following terms.
(a) If the owners or those in possession of a building refuse inspection, an inspection officer of the Building Department may obtain an inspection warrant from any court of record in the county in which the building is located, in order to determine if the building is an unsafe building. The court shall issue the warrant subject to the following conditions.
1. The person seeking the warrant must establish that the building to be searched or inspected as part of a legally authorized program of inspection that naturally includes the building, or that there is cause for believing that a condition, object, activity or circumstance legally justifies a search or inspection of that building.
2. An affidavit establishing one of the grounds described in division (C)(3)(b) must be signed under oath or affirmation by the affiant.
3. The court must examine the affiant under oath or affirmation to verify the accuracy of the affidavit.
(b) The warrant is valid only if it:
1. Is signed by the judge of the court and bears the date and hour of its issuance above that signature, with a notation that the warrant is valid for only 48 hours after its issuance;
2. Describes (either directly or by reference to the affidavit) the building where the search or inspection is to occur so that the executor of the warrant and owner or the possessor of the building can reasonably determine what property is authorized for inspection by the warrant;
3. Indicates the conditions, objects, activities or circumstances that the inspection is intended to check or reveal; and
4. Is attached to the affidavit required to be made in order to obtain the warrant.
(c) A warrant issued under this section is valid for only 48 hours after its issuance, must be personally served upon the owner or possessor of the building, and must be returned within 72 hours.
(D) After payment of the required fee, the Building Department shall issue to the owner of every registered rental unit a registration receipt and an inspection certificate, when applicable.
(E) If a rental unit that has been vacant for at least 12 months is inspected and does not meet all of the requirements of this section, the Building Department may issue a rental registration receipt, if the violations do not make the unit unsafe, and a cash bond is posted with the Building Department in the amount of $500, or the reasonably estimated cost of the required repairs if greater than $500.
(1) The cash bond will be forfeited to the city if the repairs are not made within 180 days of posting the cash bond. The forfeiture of the cash bond does not relieve the owner from the obligation to make the required repairs, nor does the forfeiture create any obligation on the city to make the required repairs.
(2) If the repairs are made within 180 days, the Building Department will return the cash bond to the party posting the bond, and will issue an inspection certificate.
(F) Each registration receipt shall be valid for a period of one year and must be renewed annually. Each registration receipt shall be renewed by its expiration date by submitting the registration fee to the Building Department. In the event that the registration fee is not paid within 30 days after its expiration date, a late fee will be assessed, and the renewal will be backdated to its prior expiration date. Any registration receipt issued shall be valid for the annual period, commencing on the anniversary date of the original expiration date, and not as of the date of payment. Payment of the registration fee shall not be considered a defense to any action filed by the city to enforce the provisions of this section, if such action was filed prior to payment of the registration fee.
(G) The registration receipt applies to the rental unit and not to the owner of the property. However, within 30 days of the sale of the equitable or legal title to any property registered under this section, any person acquiring equitable or legal title shall notify the Building Department of their name and address. No new registration fee shall be due until the expiration date of the current registration receipt.
(H) Each owner of a rental unit warrants at each change of tenant that the rental unit meets the registration set forth in this section. This warrant is implied in the very act of renting the unit, and liability for it may not be removed by any act or agreement, either written or verbal, of either the owner or the prospective tenant.
(Ord. 7-2018, passed 4-3-2018; Am. Ord. 12-2019, passed 10-15-2019)