Rental Inspections (City)

11 Replies

I'm looking at buying a home in Brownstown Township.  I have 1 rental that was my primary and converted into a rental when I moved in December 2010.  Apparently Woodhaven instituted a certificate of occupancy in April 2010, but I only realized this, this week after looking up local city websites.

I see that Brownstown requires a rental to be registered in 30 days, followed by a rental inspection (180 bucks).  

I have no experience with these inspections.  They have a 15-page checklist on the website, very thorough, looks as thorough as a home inspector would be to me.  This particular home I know I'm going  to run into some kind of problem because the basement is mostly finished, but even I know it's not to code just from what I can SEE (let alone vapor barriers and whatever).  Ther'es a sectioned off room with door, no egress, so I know I would catch flack on that if the inspector is paying attention.  Also, near where the laundry area is, they put a toilet over the cleanout and built a separate walkin shower right next to it.  It's not a 'bathroom', more like a toilet, with a walk in shower.  There is a wall with door that closes over that area (toilet, walkin shower, dryer/washer, furnace, etc, but the 'bathroom' isn't sectioned from the furnace and dryer/washer.  I have no idea what an inspector would say about that one.

The house was build in 1976 and has no GFI's or anything.  That stuff i would need to install, probbaly a coupole more smoke alarms also, but not worried about that.  Everything else looks mostly ok, but that basement scares me.

Codes change alot, and so I don't know how it is expected to have every home up to the latest and greatest.  Safety stuff, sure, but buildings were built differently through the decades.

It looks like I could be tied up for 30 days minimum to get the first inspection, and then fix whatever else, but if they tell me I have to gut the basement or something, that would be a nightmare.  The website also says they require an inspection every 3 years.  

I'm starting to think it's simpler to just lend out my pile of cash lol.

I can't imagine what some people go through with homes build 1950 or earlier, 1900!

I guess, if anyone knows the area, how anal are they?  Do they even audit records?  Woodhaven has never contacted me about my rental and I non-homesteaded it 4 years ago, so they're aware I'd asume, that it's a rental.  But this other I'm interested in is in Brownstown, different entity.

Hey @David Roberts  - I'd recommend calling somebody at the office or better yet, going in and talking to them about it.  Let them know what you're seeing and ask how they'd handle it.  Folks in that line of work are generally very helpful if you ask nicely.  If you plan on buying ANYTHING in the area it sounds like you ought to try and get on their good side early on.

Once you know what you're dealing with, make sure to build that into the price of any property you buy!

Hi Mike,

Are you talking about going to the building dept and chatting someone up about it?  That's a good idea.

I definitely don't want to sound like I want to be a slum lord.  I live 3 minutes from my 1st rental, and will be 2 minutes from this rental.  I stay ON TOP of my homes.  But, government meddling bugs me, just because I'm a tax payer and I don't trust them, and I know this isn't about safety, it's about cash flow for the city.  But, I also know it is the cost of doing business.

Mike, I inspected the house tonight, and in my evaluation, I feel the home will need interior paint in all rooms 1000 sq ft home, also MAYYBE will need carpet, maybe not. It's decent. Has a brand new roof, but the furnace is original (38 years old), and the water heater is 14 years old, so those things are going to be costly in the next few years. Would you suggest that I deduct those off my starting price, and then offer that price?

Other than the issues I mentioned in my first post and this post, the house is perfect.  I'm starting to think a finished basement for a rental is nothing but a liability.

At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter how good of shape you *think* it's in.  If an inspector disagrees, then they'll either levee you with fines or prohibit you from renting it until it meets their standards.  It would be worth your while to go into the office and explain what you see and ask how they would review it.

As for the furnace, you should definitely build that into your price.  I rarely see carpet in a building that is for sale that I would consider leaving.  If you plan to paint the entire house, the carpet will probably need replacing after that if it doesn't already.  Water heaters don't tend to last more than 5-10 years, so that will need to be replaced soon as well.  A finished basement is not a liability if it is properly finished - it sounds like what you're describing is a very unproperly finished basement that may be a liability in this case.

it was definitely a it yourself basement remodel. 

Investors on here talk like they find homes with mostly properly permitted homes,  and I just don't see that,  even in kept up homes.  It might just be my feeling on the subject but I tend to think most people do their own basements based on labor and all the costs of doing it legally.  Makes for regulatory hazards for investors though. 

I'm going to go to the building department tomorrow and see what kind of help I can get for free. 

The carpet isn't tore up,  but it's used for sure.  You are probably right about it.  I factored it into my up front costs anyway,  better to over estimate. 

If they have a 15 page check list you already know what you are up against.

If you haven't bought the property yet can you schedule an inspection with them and use the report as leverage to get the price reduced?

As for smoke alarms, be sure to look at the fine print, many municipalities require hard wired smoke detectors in every room so it's not as easy as getting battery operated ones.

I thiught about the rental inspection before buying but it sounds like the property must be registered as a rental,  then scheduled by the owner.  So probably not. 

The checklist said something about hard wired alarms but aid if that can't be done without removing drywall to exclude the structure it wasn't necessary.  Then it goes on to say unless you have access to attic,  basement,  etc that could allow for it.  So,  I would guess that would come down to how strict the inspectors are. 

The basement worries me,  and it will need smoke alarms,  fire extinguishers,  and gfci installed.  I didn't see any. 

After going through the checklist those are my concerns. 

Another Michigan County that requires rental license...  sigh!!!

I have 3 rentals in Warren and they cost $150 a piece and last 2 years. $180 is not bad for 3 years. $60 a year vs $75

I don't think my rentals have a fire extinguisher. 

One thing is make sure your lights work, each light switch has a cover, any kind of porch, steps and hand rails are solid, there is hot water, grass is cut, sufficient garbage bins..

I got violation for all of those.. They gave me 60 days to remedy it and will make you go to court if you don't at least call them for an extension

I would suggest you get everything rent ready.. You have to spend if you want to collect rent

Good luck bud...   

We have rental inspections were I manage properties. Some towns will have sale inspections (as in to get the transfer stamps needed to sell a house, a sales inspection must be done, and either repairs made before sale by the seller, or an escrow amount paid by the buyer and then repairs done to get the escrow back), and sometimes the sale inspector list will require way less than the rental inspector, which obviously makes no sense. However, if they do have sale inspections, ask that the sale inspection be done on the home you are looking at ASAP. Some realtors in this city I am speaking of will attach the sale inspection report to the listing in MLS.

In one city I do business in, I learned from talking to the rental inspector, lots of investors wind up with problems with finished basements. One problem is no egress window that is big enough or low enough on the wall. Another is lack of sufficient outlets. They also look at HVAC venting and how that is set up...and then of course if they find Romex (as in not hard metal conduit) all the Romex has got to come out. And also, if they can tell that you put in new kitchen cabs and counters, they will make the new kitchen meet the current codes with regards to outlets, even if you didn't change the kitchen layout one inch.  I strongly advise you talk to the city rental inspector now about what you saw in the property you are considering. A property that initially looks like it needs cosmetic repairs can turn into a nightmare because of these inspections.

yea,  I'm going to go try to talk to a rental inspector today but I may just avoid the city all together.  It seems overly ridiculous.  

Most of the homes showing up on my radar have finished or part finished basements. 

That's why I said from a rental standpoint I am starting to think finished basements are a big liability. 

I think most people do not pull permits.  It's twice the cost to contract and permit a finished basement. 

Local city inspection got shot down in Portsmouth, Ohio! YAY! City was charging $50 for inspection and judge rules unconstitutional without a search warrant! Hoping that more of us will fight these unfair and unjust invasion of our right for property ownership!

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