20 Mar Unresolved Compliance
The city code officer just wanted someone to call her back so they could get the yard cleaned up. The fines increased with every ticket yet, at each follow-up inspection, the property continued to resemble a pick-a-part lot.
The owners dutifully paid the tickets, charging it back to their tenant. The tenant paid the fines and swore it was all tidied up. But the tenant and compliance officer had very different definitions of what “tidied up” meant.
More fines accrued. More money was paid. And the inspector found herself at her wits end trying to get the owner’s attention and, at the same time, placate angry neighbors living next door to an eyesore. Without meaning to, the owners had annoyed their neighbors and created a negative relationship with the code enforcement team.
The problem finally escalated to the courts. A judgement of more than $100,000 was recorded against the property.
The owner responded with what can only be described as intense gusto. It eventually took a couple of conversations, a roll-off dumpster, a letter of apology, and one last payment of under $1000 to completely resolve the situation.
The goal of the fines had never been to fill the city coffers. It was to get the owners attention and get the issue resolved. It’s also why IHS has taken an offensive position in the compliance game, trending prior year issues in order to offer residents and owners an accurate and timely list of do’sbefore the neighborhood informs them of the don’ts.
Closing the loop between complaint and compliance can reduce owner costs and create a more congenial relationship with neighbors, managers and city inspectors. It’s rental home ownership simplified.