§ 152.005  LETTER OF COMPLIANCE; APPLICATION; YEARLY REGISTRATION; FEES; INSPECTIONS; GRANT; DENIAL OR REVOCATION.
   (A)   Application.
      (1)   Application for a letter of compliance with this chapter shall be submitted in writing, on forms provided, to the Housing Inspector by the owner or operator who shall be required to provide all requested information, including, but not limited to, the following:
         (a)   The address of the dwelling;
         (b)   The number and type of dwelling units in the dwelling;
         (c)   The zoning district in which the dwelling is located; and
         (d)   The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the following:
            1.   The owner; and
            2.   The operator, who must be one natural person living close enough to the city so as to conveniently act as agent or operator, or such other person with whom the Housing Inspector will communicate with respect to the dwelling unit and the requirements of this chapter.
      (2)   The failure of the applicant to provide any of the information required by division (A)(1) above may prevent the application from becoming effective for the purposes of this chapter, notwithstanding the payment of any fees.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-6)
   (B)   Yearly registration.
      (1)   The registration form for the letter of compliance with this chapter shall request an updating of at least the same information as required by division (A) above and shall be submitted to the Housing Inspector prior to July 31 of each year or within 14 days of closure when acquiring residential rental property.
      (2)   The Housing Inspector shall mail a registration form to all registered residential property owners by July 1 of each year. The owner shall return the completed registration form to the Housing Inspector within 30 days of receipt of the form. Failure to complete or return the registration form shall result in a revocation of the letter of compliance or denial of the application for the letter of compliance and/or shall be cited as a municipal infraction.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-7)
   (C)   Fees. There shall be established annually a reasonable schedule of fees for the purpose of partially defraying the cost of inspection, enforcement and administration of the provisions of this chapter. The fee schedule and the times and methods for payment thereof shall be established by resolution of the City Council. Amounts due and payable under such schedule of fees shall constitute a debt owed to the city and may be enforced and collected as such. Failure or refusal to pay fees required shall also constitute a violation of this section.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-8)
   (D)   Issuance of letter of compliance. A letter of compliance issued for a dwelling unit shall be effective until there is a change in ownership or operation, unless sooner revoked pursuant to division (G) below.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-9)
   (E)   Inspections.
      (1)   The Housing Inspector shall arrange to inspect the dwelling by contacting the person designated as agent, pursuant to division (A)(1)(d) above, and requesting that person to set a time for the inspection.
      (2)   The operator shall arrange such inspection within a reasonable time, not to exceed two weeks from the date of the Housing Inspector’s request for inspection. Failure of the operator to do so may result in denial or revocation of the letter of compliance.
      (3)   The operator or agent shall be present at the dwelling at the time set for inspection and shall accompany the Inspector during such inspection. The designee shall have access to the entire dwelling.
      (4)   The Housing Inspector shall conduct all inspections during reasonable hours of the day and after presentation of proper identification. The owner may arrange and the occupant shall have the opportunity to be present during an inspection; such arrangements to be made by the operator. Written application for a letter of compliance shall constitute consent by the owner to an inspection. Arrangements to enter shall be made with the occupant. In all cases, if the occupant or owner of a dwelling unit refuses entry to conduct an inspection, the Housing Inspector shall not conduct any such inspection without a search warrant.
      (5)   The Housing Inspector shall, whenever possible, inspect any dwelling at the request of the owner or upon receipt of a complaint from a person with demonstrable interest and evidence that the subject matter of the complaint has been reported to the operator. In addition, the Housing Inspector may, at the Housing Inspector’s own discretion, inspect any dwelling as frequently as necessary. For the purposes of this division (E)(5), the following shall apply.
         (a)   Persons with demonstrable interest are the owner, occupant or other occupant in the same dwelling; or the owner or occupant of other premises within 500 feet of the premises in question.
         (b)   A complaint shall be whatever is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as essentially to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property, as provided in the definition of the term “nuisance” in § 95.006 of this code of ordinances.
         (c)   The fact that a complaint of non-conformance with this chapter is made by the occupant shall not be used as a ground, cause or basis for termination of the tenancy or reduction of services by the owner.
         (d)   No person shall maintain an action for eviction of an occupant of property owned by such person when seeking to evict the occupant because the occupant has reported a violation of this chapter or a related section of the code to the Housing Officer or other city employees.
         (e)   If the Housing Officer requires an owner, operator or lessee to repair a dwelling unit, nothing in this section shall prohibit the latter from increasing the rent charged for the dwelling unit within 90 days from the completion of the required repairs. If the rent is increased within the 90-day period, an amount not less than the increased rent must be charged for the rental of such repaired dwelling unit for 12 consecutive months following the effective date of rent increase.
         (f)   No owner, operator, occupant or utility company shall cause any service, facility, equipment or utility which is required under this chapter to be removed from or shut off from or discontinued for any occupied dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit, except for such temporary interruption as may be necessary, while actual repairs or alterations are in progress, or temporarily during emergencies. However, a utility company may remove, discontinue or shut off such service when such may be done in accordance with established policy of the respective company relating to credit regulations.
      (6)   During the course of an inspection, if the observations of the Housing Inspector suggest that an elevator is not in safe and operating condition, the Housing Inspector shall report such observations to the state’s Labor Commissioner so an inspection may be conducted pursuant to I.C.A. Ch. 89A.
      (7)   Nothing contained in this section shall be interpreted or deemed to be a repeal, amendment, modification or dispensation of any housing standard or inspection requirement established by state laws.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-10)
   (F)   Grant of letter of compliance.
      (1)   If, after inspection, the dwelling is found to conform to the requirements of this chapter, the Housing Inspector shall issue a letter of compliance.
      (2)   At the final inspection of a rental unit after construction or remodeling requiring a building permit, the Building Inspector shall include the provisions of this chapter in the inspection, and if the dwelling unit conforms, the Inspector shall issue a letter of compliance. If dwelling units of a duplex or multiple dwelling are not all completed at the same time, the Housing Inspector may issue a letter of compliance for each dwelling unit conforming to the provisions of this chapter.
      (3)   A copy of the letter of compliance shall be available for inspection at the Inspection Office.
      (4)   The letter of compliance shall include at least the information contained in the application, the date of inspection, the name of the Inspector and the date of issue.
      (5)   For multiple dwellings, the Inspector may issue a letter of compliance for the entire dwelling that includes all the required information and that lists the address and maximum occupancy for each dwelling unit.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-11)
   (G)   Denial or revocation of letter of compliance.
      (1)   If after inspection a dwelling unit is found in non-conformance with the requirements of this chapter, the Housing Inspector shall promptly notify the operator in writing of the reasons for non- conformance and shall record the notice with the Housing Inspector’s copy of the letter of compliance or application for the letter.
      (2)   Non-conformance shall be abated within 30 days or at the termination of any written agreement between the Housing Inspector and the owner.
      (3)   The operator may, within 30 days of the notice of non-conformance, enter into a written agreement with the Housing Inspector detailing a program to abate non-conformance requiring 30 or more days, during which time § 152.999 of this chapter shall be stayed.
      (4)   If the operator does not enter into an agreement under division (G)(3) above and if the dwelling unit is presently occupied, the Housing Inspector shall, within 30 days of the notification of non-conformance, notify the occupants of each affected dwelling unit by mail, addressed to “occupant”, of the reasons for non-conformance, that eviction may be imminent and of the right to a hearing. However, failure of such occupants to receive such notice shall not bar proceedings to enforce any denial or revocation of the letter of compliance against the owner/operator.
      (5)   The owner/operator shall be entitled to one free re-inspection by the Housing Inspector to determine whether the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled.
      (6)   The tenant may, within two weeks of being notified of the non-conformance by the Housing Inspector, appeal to the Housing Appeal Board for permission to abate by repair and deduct. The appeal shall be granted if:
         (a)   The non-conformance was not caused by an occupant or other person on the premises with the consent of the occupant.
         (b)   The reasonable cost of abatement is less than $500 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater. The appeal shall include two written estimates from appropriate firms of the cost to abate, and the Appeal Board shall decide which estimate shall be accepted; or
         (c)   The operator has been notified in writing of the tenant’s intention to appeal for repair and deduct. The tenant shall submit an itemized paid statement, with lien waivers from suppliers of materials and labor for the abatement, to the owner and deduct from the next rental payment, or bill the owner for the actual cost of the repair work or the amount specified in division (G)(6)(b) above, whichever is less.
      (7)   The letter of compliance shall be denied or revoked if:
         (a)   The owner/operator does not enter into an agreement with the Housing Inspector to abate the non-conformance, and the non-conformance has not been promptly abated;
         (b)   The dwelling unit is not in conformance at the end of the period specified by the inspector in the written agreement. However, the Inspector may extend the time specified in the agreement if, through no fault of the owner and despite good faith efforts to comply, the work has been delayed; or
         (c)   The Housing Inspector knows that the dwelling unit is in violation of Ch. 156 of this code of ordinances. This division (G)(7) shall not be construed to require the Housing Inspector to be knowledgeable of Ch. 156 of this code of ordinances.
      (8)   Upon denial or revocation of the letter of compliance, the Housing Inspector shall notify the operator and the occupants in writing.
(2013 Code, § 15.5-12)
(Ord. 14437, passed 8-23-1993)