DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PUBLIC HEARING TONIGHT!


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public speakingThe City of Gladewater will host a public hearing on the proposed Certificate of Occupancy Ordinance.
Today, May 26th, @ 6pm at the Gladewater Former Students’ Association building.. Try to arrive a little early and please sign in.
*UPDATE: No sign-up to speak will be needed.

Here is information on the proposed Residential Certificate of Occupancy

– Purpose.

The city recognizes the need for implementation of a policy that requires the issuance of a certificate of occupancy and performance of a life,health and safety inspection before water utility services can be connected or reconnected to structures in the city in an effort to monitor ownershipand standards of all residential structures, thereby reducing the number of demolitions of dilapidated and/or abandoned residential structures withinthe city. The city also recognizes the need for an organized inspection program for new and aging residential rental units in order to ensure that all rental units meet city and state safety, health,fire and zoning codes and to provide a more efficient system for compelling both absentee and local landlords to correct violations and to maintain,in proper condition,rental property withinthe city. The city recognizes that implementation of the certificate of occupancy and life,health and safety inspection policy is the most efficient system to monitor occupancy and standards of all residential rental units and thereby ensure that orderly inspection schedules can be maintained by city officials.
– Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meaning ascribed to them in this section,except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
Apartment complex means a building or buildings comprised of three or more consecutive rental units each.
Bedroom means a room used or intended to be used for sleeping purposes and not as a kitchen, bathroom,living room,closet, hallway, utility space, entryway, garage,patio,or breezeway.
Building inspector means a properly identified building official for the city, or his/her designee.
Certificate of occupancy means a certificate issued by the city upon submission, review and approval of an executed residential occupancy application, which lists any and all occupants of the property, as well as the owner(s) of the property.
City means the City of Gladewater, Texas.
Life safety inspection means an inspection completed by the building inspector on all residential rental units which must be completed and submitted to the city prior to connection of water utility services to each respective residential rental unit and must be completed annually.
Owner means the person claiming,or in whomis invested,the ownership, dominion,or title of real property including but not limited to: holder of fee-simple title; holder of life-estate; holder of leasehold estate for an interim term of five years or more;a buyer under contract for deed; a mortgagee, receiver, executor or trustee in control of real property;but not including the holder of a leasehold estate or a tenancy for initial term of less than five years.
Person means an individual,corporation,business trust, estate, trust, partnershipor association,two or more persons having a joint interest, or any other legal or community entity.
Premises means a lot, plot or parcel of land, including any structure thereon, and furthermore, including a dwelling unit, appurtenances thereto, grounds and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally and any other area or facility whose use is promised to the tenant.
Property manager means a person whom, for compensation,has control of the day-to-day operations of the residential rental unit or units or the person in a partnership or corporation, or any other legal entity, who has managing control of the residential rental unit(s).
Residential rental occupancy application means an application to be completed by an owner of a residential rental unit that lists all occupants and owners for each residential rental unit, with said application to be submitted to the city prior to water utility services being connected by city.
Residential rental unit means any building or portion thereof which is rented, leased or let to be occupied for compensation as a residence, including apartments.
Resident manager means a property manager or agent of a property manager who resides in the residential rental unit.
Tenant means any person who rents,leases, or occupies a dwelling unit for living or dwelling purposes with the consent of the owner, landlord, or property manager.

– Application and issuance of certificate of occupancy.

Each owner of a residential rental unit withinthe city shall make application for occupancy for each residential rental unit therein,if applicable, with the building inspector within 180 days of the passage of the ordinance, from which this article is derived,and shall renew such application per the terms of subsection (g).
Each new owner of a residential rental unit shall make application for occupancy with the building inspector by submitting to the city a residential rental occupancy application prior to utility services being turned on.
Application for occupancy shall be made upon a form provided by the city for such purpose, and shall include at least the followinginformation:
Owner’s name, address, work and home telephone number or property owner;

If the owner does not live within 50 miles of the city, then in addition to the informationin subsection (c)(l) ,the same information shall be provided for a local contact that has the authority to represent the owner in all matters relating to maintenance of the residential structure and all respective units therein, if applicable;
If the owner is a partnership,the name of all partners,the principal business address of the person in charge of the property, and telephone number of each partner;
If owner is a corporation,the person registering must state whether it is organized under the laws of this state of is a foreign corporation,and must show the mailing address, business location,telephone number,name of the primary individual in charge of the property of such
corporation, if any, and the names of all officers and directors or trustees of such corporation, and,if a foreign corporation, the place of incorporation and the agent for service;
Name, address, and telephone number of the property manager, if applicable;

Street address of the residential structure;

Street and mailing address of the residential rental unit, if applicable;

Total square feet of living area and number of bedrooms;

{9) Number of persons occupying the structure or unit;

{10) Whether there has been a change of occupancy or an additional adult person to take up residence in structure or unit since the date of last application; and
(11) Signature of the owner or owner’s agent.

A separate residential rental occupancy application is to be completed and submitted for each residential rental unit withina residential structure.
A fee, set and reviewed annually by the city manager, shall be charged for each respective application.
The building inspector shall either issue a certificate of occupancy or notify the owner that the premises does not comply with the requirements of this article.
A certificate of occupancy for residential rental units shall be valid for a period of 12 calendar months following issuance thereof and renewal shall be applied for at least 15 business days prior to the expiration date of the existing certificate of occupancy.
It is an offense for an owner to fail to register or fail to renew application of any structure or unit within the city, and each and every day that the owner continues to failto register or renew the application of each respective structure or unit shall constitute a separate offense.
lt shall be unlawful for any person to file a false residential occupancy application with the city.

Life, health and safety inspections.

The building inspector, or his/her designee, shall inspect each residential rental unit therein at the time of application to determine compliance with minimum housingstandards and interior safety, city ordinances, international property maintenance code, city code, all applicable state and local laws, and other conditions as determined by the city.Inspections shall be conducted annually for residential rental units, or at any other time deemed necessary by the building inspector to maintaincompliance with minimum housingstandards.
Grandfathering of original installations that were approved at the time of installation may be allowed,if the inspector determines that the original installation does not pose an imminent threat to life, safety, and/or health.
Fees.
Residential Rental Units Inspection on all residential structures and residential rental units thereinshall have a fee of $25.00,respectively, with saidfee covering an initial inspection and one follow-up inspection,if needed. This fee will be assessed per residential rental unit at each change-of-occupancy inspection. If additional inspections are conducted on any one residential structure or residential rental unit due to failure to pass inspection on the initial and follow-up inspections, the fee will be $50.00 for each additional inspection.
If, upon completion of the inspection, the premises are found to be in compliance with all standards and codes mentioned in subsection (a), the city shall issue an inspection slip/report to the owner.
Failure to give the city building inspector or his/her designee access to any individual rental unit(s) therein shall constitute a violation and grounds for denying a passing inspection for each said unit, and the fees associated for said inspection and all additional inspections shall be assessed as if the initial inspection was completed and judged as a failureto pass inspection.
– Offenses and penalties.

If any person commits an offense, knowingly performs an act prohibited by this article or knowingly fails to perform an act required by this article shall be in violation of this article and is subject to a fine of not more than $2,000.00 for each offense, and each and every day such offense or violation shall continue shall be deemed a separate offense and fined accordingly.

FAQ about the Certificate of Occupancy

Why is this needed when we have ordinances already in the books to address this?

The only existing ordinance that can address these issues requires a tenant to call City Hall and request an inspection. The Certificate of Occupancy ordinance would allow regular inspections to ensure that health and safety standards are being met.
Is this ordinance designed as way to provide more revenue to the city and not to aid in improving the health and safety risks to tenants of rental property?
No. While, there is a $25 fee associated with this Certificate that will be collected by the city, this fee is to ensure that inspections do not cause a rise in taxation by providing a directed user fee. If issues are discovered within a rental property and a follow-up inspection is required,there is no additional fee for this follow up inspection.
Furthermore,the $25 fee would allow the city to budget the revenue generated to reinvest in city efforts for the improvement of health and safety of its citizens, such as the removal of abandoned or dilapidated housing.
Why is the city focused on this ordinance when it is facing other challenges for our community?

Cities,in general,are faced with many challenges everyday as they work to address and improve the quality of life for their residents. While these challenges do vary for each community, to forgo addressing a known issue with capable city resources should never be a practice of any city. We must address multiple issues simultaneously to ensure the City’s continued quality of life improvements.
Why isthe city focused on this ordinance rather than addressing our water quality?

The water system in the City is being addressed by our Public Works department. Contrary to statements made in a paid advertisement, the City’s water is safe for drinking. Last year’s flood event created unique challenges for our plant operators and TCEQ to address. Public notices were issued, per state guidelines, and a boilnotice was issued by our Public Works department to ensure the health of our residents. If the water were not safe for drinking,TCEQ would not allow us to operate our plant and provide water.
For decades, decision makers chose to forgo routine and preventative maintenance on our city utility lines. Over time, those lines need to be replaced. As part of addressing water quality, we want to ensure we are replacing water and sewer lines regularly. Our water plant is currently running well,and produces potable water. We cannot focus only on one facet of our quality of life in the community. We must address several of them for us to move forward.
If passed,will this ordinance overburden our current city code enforcement officer? Will the city have
to hire an additional code enforcement officers?
No. The current city code enforcement officer willtrain existing city staff to aid in the inspection process. These inspections are not extremely technical in nature but are a common sense approach to the review of a property for health and safety risks to the tenant. This Certificate of Occupancy addresses health and safety issues found in the home. Many of these risks are imminent dangers. The Fire Department has stepped forward and will be designated by Al Harrison to handle many inspections, as this would help limit the number of structure fires in the community. Our staff is dedicated to being proactive in dealing with safety issues.
If passed,when will inspections begin?

While this will be further discussed at the public hearing in more detail,annual inspections would have to be scheduled with each rental unit owner withinthe specified time that Council sets. If inspections are to be done with each change of occupancy, then inspections would be beginat the time Council sets the ordinance to become effective.
If issues are discovered during an inspection, how long does a landlord have to make the repair?

This will depend on the degree of repair necessary. Minor repairs as deemed by the inspector will have 10 days to be repaired. Major repairs as deemed by the inspector will have 30 days to repair. Extensions are available on a case-by-case basis.
If issues are discovered duringan inspection of an occupied rental property, does the tenant have to move out untilrepairs are made?
No, unless it is a life-threatening situation as deemed by the inspector.

Will properties be grandfathered in under the codes in which the homes were originally built?

The staff recommends to the City Council to honor original installations that were approved through permitting processes at the time of installation, so long as those installations are deemed by the Building Official or his designee to not cause an imminent danger to safety or health of the occupants.
Example: A rental unit has a circuit breaker box located withina closet. Since this circuit breaker box was installed at a time that it could be installed in a closet, this would be a grandfathered box. If the same circuit breaker box was in a condition that was deemed to be an imminent harm to health and safety to occupants,then the condition would have to be remedied before the Certificate of Occupancy could be issued.
Example: A rental unit has outlets within the home without ground fault protection. Current code would not allow this electrical installation,but the unit was built at a time in which this installation was allowed. The unit would not have to be rewired if it is not deemed an imminent health and safety issue for occupants.
Will inspections lead to landlords having to hardwire all smoke detectors?

No. The City’s staff has not made the recommendation to hardwire smoke detectors. While it is considered a best practice, itis not necessary for the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. The Certificate of Occupancy is meant to set a baseline of health and safety in our community. While we would encourage any homeowner or landlord to hardwire smoke detectors, it will not be forced upon them through a Certificate of Occupancy.
Will an inspection checklist be made available to landlords?

An inspection checklist will be available for pick up at city hall or available for download from the city website. The checklist represents a general overview of the inspection,and not meant to be an exhaustive list.
C/0 Inspection Details
This inspection list is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive in nature. The following list provides an outline of issues and considerations that the building official takes into account during a Certificate of Occupancy inspection. The Building Official or designee shall have the authority to enforce all codes, laws, and ordinance necessary to ensure the life, safety, and health of all occupants.

Exterior of house

Check for address – Help emergency personnel locate house.
High weeds and debris – prevent rodent and snake infestation
Check skirting of house – prevent rodent infestation
Check electrical meter – may have faulty wiring or connection
Check siding for rot or holes – prevent rodent and termite infestation
Check exterior lighting – prevent shorting or other possible hazards
Check for vacuum breakers -back flow prevention
Check roof – prevent leaks and mold
A/C – no electrical hazards
Handrails – steps and decks are safe to walk on

Exterior Doors

Check locks -crime prevention
Check that door is solid core -crime prevention
Check that door is weather tight – help heating and cooling

Windows

Broken glass -prevent injury
Caulked in – prevent injury and heatingand cooling
Rotting- prevent injury and heating and cooling
Do the locks work -crime prevention
Do they open – fire escape

Living Room

Outlets have covers -electrical shock
Lights and fans – electrical shock hazards
Floors – strong enough to support traffic
Walls – no holes for rodents or snakes
C/0 Inspection Details

Kitchen

1. Traps – leaks, mold, rotting
Outlets – electrical shock hazards
Floor -strong enough to support traffic
Walls – no holes for rodents and snakes
Ceiling – leaks, moldgrease laden vapors that could be fire hazards

Hallways

Floors -strong enough to support traffic
Walls – holes for rodents and snakes
Outlets for cover – electrical shock
Lights – electrical shock
Smoke detectors – must be outside bedrooms

Bathrooms

1. Outlets have covers -electrical shock hazard
Ventilation – prevent mold
Traps – leaks, mold, rot
Lighting-electrical shock hazard
Floors -support traffic
Walls – holes rodent and snakes, rot

Bedrooms

Windows do they open – fire escape
Floors – strong enough to handle traffic
Smoke detectors – present and working
Walls – holes for rodents and snakes
Lights and fans -electrical shock hazards
Doors and locks -crime prevention,privacy

Water Heaters

1. T&P valve -run is present and not reduced explosion prevention and burn prevention 2 . Pan- prevent floor rot
Disconnect – electrical shock hazard
Gas valve -fire prevention
Cold water shut off -leak prevention
Make up air- carbon monoxide prevention


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