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Denison launches new rental inspection program following delays

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The city of Denison is launching its new rental inspection program on Jan. 4.

The city of Denison is preparing to ring in the new year by launching its new rental inspection program following lengthy delays in 2020.

City officials announces that the program, which will offer incentives for voluntary inspections of rental units, is currently slated to begin on Jan. 4. The program has been a long-term goal for the city as it aims to support the growth of quality rental housing within the city.

 “The City is excited to finally get the rental registration program implemented after the challenges of COVID caused its delay in 2020,” Denison Neighborhood Services Manager Robert Lay said in a press release. “The City is committed to building quality neighborhoods. The rental registration and inspection program is one of many programs Denison offers to help achieve this commitment.”

Work on a rental inspection program started in mid-2015 following the formation of the city's housing task force. However, it wasn't until 2019 when progress was made.

Early drafts of the program required mandatory inspections for all of the city's rental units, but this received significant push back when it was presented to the city council in 2019.

A second version, that was optional and offered reduced building permits and other perks as an incentive, received more support and was ultimately approved by the council.

The program was slated to begin in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic led the city to enact a hiring freeze and prevented the hiring of a code compliance officer for the program.

“When the pandemic started, we didn’t do any inspections where we were going into an occupied residence,” then City Manager Jud Rex said. 

As of Thursday afternoon, no inspections were scheduled, however city officials anticipated this would change over time.

“There was a lot of interest in the program before being delayed due to the challenges of COVID-19," said Aaron Werner, managing director of communications and engagement. "We anticipate that interest will ramp back up quickly, once word gets out that the program is kicking off.”

The Rental Registration and Inspection Program encourages voluntary registration of rental units, with no fee, to be eligible to receive benefits such as discounts on special pick-ups and building permits for repairs. The program also offers a “VIP” program for voluntary interior inspections of unoccupied units and is included on a “VIP” list available on the City’s website.