OSKALOOSA — The city of Oskaloosa’s rental inspection program is now underway.

The city approved the new rental inspection program earlier this year. The law requires landlords to register their rental properties with the city for the purpose of being inspected.

“We started the first inspections in September,” Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock said. “We have about 1,750 units registered. We’re pleased with that. This is a tool to set a standard in the community. We’re pleased to see a number of improvements with rental units in the community, and people investing in their properties.”

City officials are encouraged by the large number of registrations that have already been completed, said Development Services Director Andrew Jensen.

“We estimated that there were approximately 1,800 rental units in the city,” Jensen said. “We feel positive that most of the landlords heard about the program and chose to register and be in compliance.”

Jensen added that the city sent out information packets and held three lengthy informational meetings with landlords to help get out information on the program.

Rental property owners initially had an Aug. 1 deadline to register their properties with the city or be assessed with a late registration fee.

Earlier this month, the city granted property owners a reprieve on the late fee, citing confusion about registration requirements. The registration fee is $15 per rental unit.

Starting Nov. 1, properties not registered with the program will be fined $50 per day, with a maximum fine of $500.

Jensen said that the city is still working on clearing up questions about some properties and requirements under the new law.

“We have between 100 and 200 properties in town that could be rentals,” he said. “We have city staff going around to clarify these things. Some properties may have changed hands, too.”

Under the program, each rental unit in the city will be inspected every three years.

Properties that fail more than two full re-inspections will be put on a one year cycle until they pass on the first time.

Properties that pass inspection the first time around will be moved to a four-year inspection rotation.

Inspections are being conducted by a private contractor, Iowa Inspections, LLC.

The inspections include exterior areas and structure, interior areas and structure, plumbing and mechanical and fire safety requirements.

Jensen explained that the goal is for 55 rental units to be inspected every month.

“That’s 55 units,” he clarified. “The number of properties varies. We may have a number of single unit rentals or a multi-unit building.”

He added that a number of property owners have volunteered to be inspected immediately.

With inspections underway, the top priority, according to Jensen, will be inspecting properties that may need some work.

“We’re trying to make an effort to address rougher looking properties sooner than later,” he said. “We do expect over the next few months to focus on the rougher properties and work with the owners to get them into compliance.”

James Jennings is a staff writer at the Oskaloosa Herald covering city government issues. He can be reached via email at: jjennings@oskyherald.com; or telephone him in the newsroom at 641-672-2581, ext. 422.

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