Proposed Housing Code Changes in Wilmington, DE

7 Replies

Fellow BP Members,

Recently, there were four community meetings to discuss proposed housing code legislation in WIlmington, DE. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but am wondering if any of you were and what sort of feedback you heard. These changes are well-meaning, some good and some not so good in my view, with the not so good resulting in increased costs for "good" rental property owners. I've pasted a list of the proposed changes below as well as the website. 

What do you think about these proposed changes? Have a good day.

Mayor Purzycki Schedules Two Additional Community Meetings on Proposed Housing Code Legislation to Preserve City Neighborhoods

    • "The new ordinance to amend Chapters 4, 5 and 34 of the City Code would:

      Change enforcement of the housing code with respect to vacant and rental properties from criminal enforcement to civil enforcement with civil fines for non-compliance.
      Establish a target goal of 1,500 rental properties to be inspected annually by L&I and require that all rental dwellings be inspected every three years instead of every two or five years. If no violations are found during a rental inspection, the L&I Commissioner may delay the next required rental inspection one additional year from three years to four years.
      Change the fee assessed for a second rental re-inspection from $25 to $125.
      Add language reiterating that regular rental inspections are a condition of a City rental business license.
      Add a civil fine of $500 per rental unit for failure to register/obtain a rental business license.
      Add a civil fine of $250 for each violation of the housing code if the violation relates to a rental property or a vacant property. Each week’s failure to comply is a separate offense subject to an additional $250 fine. There is no change to the criminal fine structure for all other types of property, except that the new law would change “each day’s failure to comply may result in an additional fine” to “each week’s failure to comply may result in a separate offense.”
      Increase the business license fee for rental properties to $100 per unit, not to exceed a total business license fee of $10,120. It would increase the fee from the current formula which is $50 (for one or two units) or $120 (for three or more units) plus $10 per unit.
      Amend the vacant property registration fee program to: (1) increase the registration fees for properties that are vacant three or more years; (2) require registration of buildings vacant for six consecutive months rather than 45 consecutive days; (3) impose a civil fine of $500 for failing to register a vacant building within 30 days of the required time to register; (4) exempt vacant buildings owned by the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank Corporation (“Land Bank”) from registration requirements; (5) provide that purchasers of a vacant building from the Land Bank be billed a vacant registration fee based on the duration of vacancy from the time he or she received the building from the Land Bank, rather than a vacant registration fee based on the complete duration of the vacancy prior to that new owner receiving the building; (6) provide for a vacant registration fee abatement program.
      Change the minimum amount of time citizens have to correct a code violation from 45 days to 30 days, unless a shorter time period is required to protect public safety. Dwellings that are unfit for human habitation are provided only three days to comply.
      Change the requirement that the City mail notice to the “last known address,” to instead, the property address and the tax address, and provide that the time notification period begins to run on the earlier of: five business days from the date of mailing; the date of actual delivery; or the date the notice is posted.
      Change the appeal fee charged to citizens who choose to challenge a citation from a non-refundable $50 to a refundable fee if the appeal is successful.
      Change the time in which a person may appeal a citation from 10 business days to 20 calendar days.
      Amend the code to require distribution of housing and rental program information by the City to owner occupants and tenants during all inspections.
      Amend the code to require quarterly reports to City Council providing the results of rental inspections and other information the L&I Commissioner determines should be included."
      Originally posted by @Scott Lewis :

      Fellow BP Members,

      Recently, there were four community meetings to discuss proposed housing code legislation in WIlmington, DE. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but am wondering if any of you were and what sort of feedback you heard. These changes are well-meaning, some good and some not so good in my view, with the not so good resulting in increased costs for "good" rental property owners. I've pasted a list of the proposed changes below as well as the website. 

      What do you think about these proposed changes? Have a good day.

      Mayor Purzycki Schedules Two Additional Community Meetings on Proposed Housing Code Legislation to Preserve City Neighborhoods

        • "The new ordinance to amend Chapters 4, 5 and 34 of the City Code would:

          Change enforcement of the housing code with respect to vacant and rental properties from criminal enforcement to civil enforcement with civil fines for non-compliance.
          Establish a target goal of 1,500 rental properties to be inspected annually by L&I and require that all rental dwellings be inspected every three years instead of every two or five years. If no violations are found during a rental inspection, the L&I Commissioner may delay the next required rental inspection one additional year from three years to four years.
          Change the fee assessed for a second rental re-inspection from $25 to $125.
          Add language reiterating that regular rental inspections are a condition of a City rental business license.
          Add a civil fine of $500 per rental unit for failure to register/obtain a rental business license.
          Add a civil fine of $250 for each violation of the housing code if the violation relates to a rental property or a vacant property. Each week’s failure to comply is a separate offense subject to an additional $250 fine. There is no change to the criminal fine structure for all other types of property, except that the new law would change “each day’s failure to comply may result in an additional fine” to “each week’s failure to comply may result in a separate offense.”
          Increase the business license fee for rental properties to $100 per unit, not to exceed a total business license fee of $10,120. It would increase the fee from the current formula which is $50 (for one or two units) or $120 (for three or more units) plus $10 per unit.
          Amend the vacant property registration fee program to: (1) increase the registration fees for properties that are vacant three or more years; (2) require registration of buildings vacant for six consecutive months rather than 45 consecutive days; (3) impose a civil fine of $500 for failing to register a vacant building within 30 days of the required time to register; (4) exempt vacant buildings owned by the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank Corporation (“Land Bank”) from registration requirements; (5) provide that purchasers of a vacant building from the Land Bank be billed a vacant registration fee based on the duration of vacancy from the time he or she received the building from the Land Bank, rather than a vacant registration fee based on the complete duration of the vacancy prior to that new owner receiving the building; (6) provide for a vacant registration fee abatement program.
          Change the minimum amount of time citizens have to correct a code violation from 45 days to 30 days, unless a shorter time period is required to protect public safety. Dwellings that are unfit for human habitation are provided only three days to comply.
          Change the requirement that the City mail notice to the “last known address,” to instead, the property address and the tax address, and provide that the time notification period begins to run on the earlier of: five business days from the date of mailing; the date of actual delivery; or the date the notice is posted.
          Change the appeal fee charged to citizens who choose to challenge a citation from a non-refundable $50 to a refundable fee if the appeal is successful.
          Change the time in which a person may appeal a citation from 10 business days to 20 calendar days.
          Amend the code to require distribution of housing and rental program information by the City to owner occupants and tenants during all inspections.
          Amend the code to require quarterly reports to City Council providing the results of rental inspections and other information the L&I Commissioner determines should be included."

           There is extensive discussion on this topic on the DelREIA facebook group. For specific feedback from other landlords who have been actively engaged with the City Council and the Mayor on this matter I would recommend that you go there and read through the different posts on the topic from the last 2 months or so. 

          Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

          Ugh ..I would sell my rental houses to the tenants on seller financing and beat them at their own game

           exactly what we did on several & we have one guy finally paying us off after 12 years of 12%.

          @Dennis M. it also helps with the insurance liability. We have an Ins Carrier that will put the tenant as insured but us as the 'mtg holder' per se so payouts go to us but NOT the claim. Tenants pay an escrow as well as the 'rents' to cover all taxes, insurances, water & trash. Hence no city lien surprises. We have had some over the years actually pay us off or get conventional financing to buy it. They manage the property, pay for all maintenance, deal with landlord issues & they direct deposit their pmts every month. Even though they have a late fee they are rarely late. Admittedly we have taken many back but it's rinse & repackage. In fact we have an 'investor that has taken over 7+ deals over the last 10 years (all @ 12-13% financing @ 2-3x our initial purchase price) & he still pounces on any if the current 'client' walks away. At 52 he was able to quit his JOB.

          It works on C-class duplexes like a dream. Buy it for $20k flip it to the 'client' for $40k & they do all the rehab on their dime, deal with landlord drama, manage it, unplug toilets at 2am & pay us 12-13% on the $40k.

          It's virtually a hands off 'passive income dream' with exponential cashflow & we've been doing it for 20+ years.

          Originally posted by @Pat L. :

          @Dennis M. it also helps with the insurance liability. We have an Ins Carrier that will put the tenant as insured but us as the 'mtg holder' per se so payouts go to us but NOT the claim. Tenants pay an escrow as well as the 'rents' to cover all taxes, insurances, water & trash. Hence no city lien surprises. We have had some over the years actually pay us off or get conventional financing to buy it. They manage the property, pay for all maintenance, deal with landlord issues & they direct deposit their pmts every month. Even though they have a late fee they are rarely late. Admittedly we have taken many back but it's rinse & repackage. In fact we have an 'investor that has taken over 7+ deals over the last 10 years (all @ 12-13% financing @ 2-3x our initial purchase price) & he still pounces on any if the current 'client' walks away. At 52 he was able to quit his JOB.

          It works on C-class duplexes like a dream. Buy it for $20k flip it to the 'client' for $40k & they do all the rehab on their dime, deal with landlord drama, manage it, unplug toilets at 2am & pay us 12-13% on the $40k.

          It's virtually a hands off 'passive income dream' with exponential cashflow & we've been doing it for 20+ years.

          I will be contacting you in the future pat lol  I’m ready to learn the ropes in this . Sorry op - back on topic 

          Yeah OP apologize for the hijack ...

          but with rent controls, property citations for minor issues etc especially in upstate NY its getting tough to impossible to be a conventional LL.