Regular Apartment Inspections

REGULAR APARTMENT INSPECTIONS Apartment buildings in Houston with more than 2 units would need to submit to regular city inspections to ensure they meet minimum habitability standards — under a bill expected to get final approval today from the Texas House: “Under [State Rep. Dwayne] Bohac’s bill [HB 1819], the city would get broad authority to set up its own inspections regime. One of the mayor’s closest policy aides, Andy Icken, is already working with city lawyers to draft an ordinance for City Council consideration this year. ‘Having a clear, established state law and city ordinance would clearly communicate to all the stakeholders what our expectations are,’ said Icken, a deputy director with the city’s Public Works and Engineering Department. The bill, which only applies to Houston, requires the city to maintain standards for sturdy and sealed walls, floors, windows and ceilings. It also requires complexes to maintain such basics as hot water, working toilets and heating systems. There’s also a provision requiring each unit and building in a complex to have lighted signs so that emergency personnel can locate them at night. Owners who don’t comply would face civil and criminal penalties.” [Houston Chronicle; more details (PDF)]

12 Comment

  • Maybe this is why the city was so willing to condemn Wilshire Village?

    This is going to be another bloated bureaucracy. The city can barely keep the 3 inspectors to insure that floodplain violations don’t occur.

    Be ready for third party inspection outfits to fill in to meet the state requirement which will me violations will get passed over.

    Huber Vo, get your wallet ready to pay off and keep your slums operating!

  • They should also require outside lighting so emergency personnel can find the entrances to the units.

  • I don’t like this for several reasons.
    Firstly, it only applies to Houston. Somehow, I doubt that Houston has a monopoly on crappy apartment housing. If this is enough in the State’s interest that Houston ought to do it, then why not any of the other large cities? If it is not in the whole State’s interest, then why should it apply anywhere?
    Secondly, if a tenant doesn’t like the living conditions, they really ought to move. They can break their lease if conditions are ‘unlivable’; otherwise, it is really only their business what is acceptable or not, and at what price point.
    Thirdly, inspections of such things as working toilets would seem to require that a government officially physically inspect every single apartment unit in a given complex. I’ve done property walk-throughs before, and it doesn’t matter whether tenants have been warned, these inspectors are going to come across some very strange things, some of them illegal, some of them embarrassingly private, and others potentially dangerous (for instance the guy who works at night and sleeps nude with a gun under his pillow during the day, when inspections happen, and who didn’t hear the knock at the door before the inspectors came in anyway to what they think is a vacant unit). In any case, it is an invasion of privacy, as much against the interests of the tenants as the landlords.

  • It sounds like another ordinance they will pass but won’t have the personnel to enforce.

  • This is a link to a BlogHouston post regarding the same topic. Check the comment by Ubu Roi. It’s pretty good analysis. Huber Vo (slumlord) has sponsored to get rid of his slumlord competition.

  • Oddly enough, my friend at Wilshire Village never had a plumbing problem. Maybe it’s just the way things were built then. No leaks or hot water shortages and the toilet was original and got the job done, if you get my meaning. I’m all for conserving resources, but playing Flushin’ Roulette with lo-flow fixtures gets old.

  • I agree with ya on the low crap toilets that are sold now.

    I’m currently looking for the old fashion 3 gallon ones that work really well.

    Houston doesn’t have a shortage of water (despite the flyers that put in our water bills).

  • Kyle,

    You should check out some of the newer toilets that are available now. There actually are some legitimate ones that work well…. and can save agua. My son is a plumbing sales specialist at Lowes and knows his stuff.

  • Houston must start taking control for apartments that are not properly managed and become a health hazard. The City needs to address the apartments before they get so bad they have to shut them down leaving residents to find a new home in days. Hopefully Mayor White will act fast when this becomes law.

  • It’s Jeff’s line of reasoning that causes people to believe that government should solve all of our problems (usually they caused them anyway). No, it is in no way the responsibility of the city to manage bad apartments.

    If the apartments are so bad, the renters should move out. Most slummy apartments don’t hold legal contracts (leases) with residents or the residents are on month-to-month or week-to-week renting.

    With the shear number of lower cost apartments available, residents can find better places if they want them. Of course, many of these residents are probably brainwashed with the concept that when they have a problem, the government should have a solution versus the American founding belief of individual self reliance.

  • This is just a “public relations” ploy for Bill White and Houston Apartment Association after several stories in the Houston Chronicle about how the city doesn’t enforce its own ordinances.

    And of course for Hubert Vo. Who wants to prove, I guess, that he is not a slum landlord. Until someone else files a complaint and the Houston Chronicle risks losing more advertising dollars to run another story.

    At one point, the Houston Chronicle provided a link to a city website site where you could look up who had been cited. Quite a few were members of Houston Apartment Association. Including the slum properties and their owners who often hide behind management companies. The city has adequate ordinances. The city simply doesn’t enforce them until they’re forced to. Usually when someone is killed when a stairwell has collapsed or someone has been killed by exposed wiring or a child has drowned in an ungated swimming pool. Or when the media starts nosing around.

    It’s very easy to say the tenants should just move. Hope those who say that end up with a slum landlord and find out how easy it is not to just move.

    If you file a complaint against the landlord with the city or find an attorney willing to file a lawsuit against the landlord, they refuse rent and then file a wrongful eviction suit against you and if you appeal it, Houston Apartment Association sends its attorneys to defend the landlord.

    If you just move, they report you to the credit bureau and claim you owe them for the lease, damages including attorney fees, and anything and everything they can think of. And if you call Houston Apartment Association, they tell you, sorry, you should have read your lease.

    They really should be called scum landlords. And Houston Apartment Association should change its name to Houston Scum Landlord Association. As for Bill White, he is just scum. And no doubt he was behind the sudden interest in Wilshire Village – the city does not issue warnings, then issue citations and then evict the tenants when the landlord ignores the citations as quickly as the city did at Wilshire Village. Not without someone pulling strings. Although usually the strings are pulled to keep the city from issuing citations and closing the complexes. That only happens, it seems, when the media, the Houston Chronicle in particular, starts nosing around.

    Smart homebuyers don’t buy new homes, particularly homes built by Bob Perry, and smart renters don’t lease at complexes that display the Houston Apartment Association logo.

  • who do i call to see if they can come out to my complex for harris county cause we have mold in our ac and all in the walls and termites in the walls on our patio