Renter Beware!

Newark mayor’s office promotes random code inspections for rental properties 

In an effort to apply more aggressive enforcement of property maintenance standards, the Newark, N.J., mayor’s office is advocating mandatory, indoor inspections of homes suspected of code violations.

The mayor’s Property Maintenance Committee is, for now, proposing that forced inspections be limited to rental properties with issues relating to safety, structure and neighborhood impact.

“Though the City Council has yet to approve these recommendations, this could be the beginning of a larger trend of random, mandatory home inspections,” said Eddy Lang, Housefax CEO. “This would not only promise nasty surprises for renters, but perhaps someday for homeowners as well.”

Buyers and owners are not the only ones who can benefit from a Housefax Property History Report. “Renters can gain an advantage with a quick snapshot of any hidden red flags on a property before they sign a lease,” said Lang. “Though the consequences may be different for a renter, avoiding random inspections and dealing with code complications can be avoided. We recommend conducting some ‘renter beware’ due diligence before committing to renting a home.”

Currently, permission for a city indoor inspection must be granted by a homeowner or tenant in most municipalities. But this new policy would allow for a court order or a “non-criminal” warrant to carry out an inspection whether or not the owner or occupant agrees to it. Other cities may follow suit.

Though many businesses such as restaurants and factories are subject to random government inspections, the sanctity of the private home has never been violated in such a manner. “This could be the beginning of a trend,” said Lang. “This is as good a reason as any for not only potential buyers but now renters to assure that the home they’re considering is as safe as possible from hidden code violations and other issues in the property’s past.”