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Published: Friday, 5/11/2001

Rental inspection plan infuriates Adrian landlords

ADRIAN - Literature warning building inspectors to stay off private property has been distributed recently at public meetings, telling city officials that some residents don't support a new rental inspection ordinance.

But Adrian officials say the ordinance that requires landlords to register their properties and calls for regular inspections is a responsible way to protect the city's quality of life.

The Adrian City Commission approved a rental inspection ordinance Nov. 20. And City Administrator George Brown said most residents approve of the measure.

“We think we have a lot of good landlords, we think we have a lot of good housing stock in this city,” Mr. Brown said. “We're assuming that most of the rental properties will be found to be in very good shape. But there are others that have deteriorated and we have to address those.”

The ordinance requires that each rental unit be registered with the city for a $25 fee. A landlord can register additional properties for an added $10. All rental properties must be registered by June 8, Mr. Preston said.

Once registered, each property will be inspected to ensure that all safety and structure requirements are met. Landlords then will pay $40 for the inspection and $10 for each unit after four.

But opponents say the ordinance not only imposes financial hardships, it is an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional. Literature distributed by a group known as “Freeman, a Natural Born Individual” was given out at a meeting between city officials and the Lenawee Area Rental Housing Association. The flyers warned public servants to keep off private land.

The God and Country Club has shown interest in the ordinance, even asking city officials to speak about it. Rev. Rick Strawcutter - the controversial leader of the local organization that advocates free speech - refused to comment.

Mr. Preston said inspecting rental properties is not new: Adrian began imposing a maintenance code in September, 1971.

“The only difference is that up until now, it was a complaint-based inspection,” he said. “If a complaint came in, then property inspector would go out and do inspection.”

That was good enough for John Hall, who moved into Adrian March 1. Now a renter, Mr. Hall plans to live in Adrian long-term and possibly become a landlord himself.

But he said the new regulations are not only invasive but smack of governmental control.

“The more laws you have in place, the less ownership you have. And the more taxes you impose on people, the harder it will be for them to maintain their property,” Mr. Hall, 37, said. “My thing as a renter and potential landlord, I don't want additional laws on me to hamper me from running my property as a competent person.”

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