Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

State considering housing inspection limits

1. June 2005 • Murph
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Representative Chris Ward (R-Brighton) has introduced a bill to the Michigan House that would limit the ability of cities to conduct housing inspections. Currently, rental housing must be inspected for safety violations every two years; House Bill 4473 (2005) would require inspections at least every five years, and no more frequently than once every three.

Additionally, the bill would,

  • Require that any complaints by tenants be presented in writing to landlords before they could be the basis for an inspection.
  • Prevent local housing authorities from inspecting any housing already inspected by HUD or the Michigan State Housing Development Agency.
  • Reduce the ability of cities to conduct follow-up inspections to ensure that violations had been corrected.
  • Reduce the ability of cities to recoup administrative costs of inspections (the bill is predicted to cost Lansing’s Housing Department up to $1 million).
  • Reduce the severity of certain types of violations – like non-functioning smoke detectors.

Several Michigan cities and local newspapers have come out against the bill, which is seen as good for landlords and bad for renters. Ann Arbor City Councilmember Leigh Greden says that he has drafted a Council resolution against the bill, and is in the process of lining up co-sponsors.

  1. Makes you wonder who contributed to Rep. Ward to get this awful idea turned into legislation?
       —John Q    Jun. 1 '05 - 04:32PM    #
  2. Check these campaign finance reports from the Secretary of State.

    Come to think of it, anyone want to pull these together for city/county types?

    2004 Post General Election Cont. Stmt.

    2004 Pre-General Statement

    2004 Post Primary Statement

    2004 Pre-Primary

    2004 SoS Annual Contribution report

    Pretty big money from the Realtors lobby, though it’s spread all around.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 04:49PM    #
  3. Note, those are all for the Christopher Ward for State Representative Committee so you don’t have to sift too much.

    Also—Greden’s stock is rising in my book. Is he a PR machine, or is it just that he knows people I know? No accusations about him not being a public representative.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 04:51PM    #
  4. Dale, I swear I’m not a PR machine!

    I feel strongly that Ann Arbor should have the right to develop our own inspection program based on our needs. We have a high number of renters, unlike many of the smaller towns represented by Ward and other Republicans. Our needs are different than the needs of smaller towns, and the State shouldn’t dictate this to us.

    So far, Councilmembers Easthope, Carlberg, Teall, and Lowenstein are all co-sponsors. It will be on the Council’s 6/6 agenda.
       —Leigh Greden    Jun. 1 '05 - 07:50PM    #
  5. Even more important than the resolution (an important public statement, in some ways) is lobbying in the state legislature. Who are you talking to and what is their analysis? (This goes for individuals to do, as well, not just our council members).

    The New West Side has another issue.
       —Dale    Jun. 1 '05 - 08:19PM    #
  6. For city/county campaign finance reports, see

    Unfortunately, the site doesn’t seem to work for Firefox 1.0.4, but I’m working on getting it fixed. Any advice would be appreciated, Rather than posting off-topic here, please send technical suggestions to me at my county address:
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 1 '05 - 08:22PM    #
  7. In an attempt at subtlety, I’ll note that the NWS has an issues page dealing with this bill. It has made it out of committee and to the full House.
       —Dale    Jun. 7 '05 - 03:50AM    #
  8. Another update: Discussion from the Michigan Municipal League—
    “Rental Housing Inspection Legislation Update – As expected, HB 4473 (Rep. Ward, R-Brighton) was reported by the House Local Government Committee to the House floor this past week. The bill has been improved somewhat from its original version and the sponsor has committed to holding the bill on the floor while work-group meetings are held in an effort to reach agreement on the major issues. MML continues to oppose the bill as it is currently written, and is participating in the work group along with housing and local officials. We’ll continue to keep you informed, but in the meantime let your state representative know that you oppose HB 4473 as passed by the House Local Government Committee. That as passed by the committee the bill creates a one-size fits all standard for inspecting rental housing that is inappropriate and violates the basic principles of local control given the vast differences in the rental-housing environment in communities across the state. The bill restricts the ability to do reinspections by using an arbitrary number of violations to trigger such an event; re-inspections should be based on the severity of the violation, not an arbitrary number. Finally, the bill severely restricts a local unit’s ability to apply appropriate fees to recover the cost of running such a program. Remind legislators that rental housing inspection programs are not used by locals to create a profit but to protect neighborhood property values and the health and safety of local residents.”

    Second, I talked with Ward’s legislative guy, who said that it’s in a work group to try to get it into a shape that satisfies interested parties, “the Municipal League, the township association, the fire marshal association, tenants rights groups, and property owners groups.” No forecast on when it will get a vote.
       —Dale    Jun. 7 '05 - 06:52PM    #