Kent City Council updates rental regulations

Amanda Levine

The Kent Community Development Department recently revised its rental inspection protocol with the addition of “a minor amendment to the 2016 ordinance to remove surplus language and add clarifying language,” Bridget Susel said in an email.

Susel, the community development director, defined surplus language as language that was in the code that was not being applied or utilized. 

The new wording changed consequences landlords would face if they didn’t comply to the inspections. Renters have and will continue to face a $100 fine for not filing an inspection.

Under Health Commissioner Jeff Neistadt, there was language in the protocol that allowed the health department- under severe circumstances- to file a misdemeanor if health inspections weren’t up to date. 

“On a case by case basis, the health commissioner could petition the health board and add them to allow for the issuance of a misdemeanor,” Susel said. “… But the health department had one clause in two different sections, the code that said in cases where it was really severe, where they were not complying, they could request that the misdemeanor be issued by the health board.”

House inspections of households with three or more unrelated people have been conducted since 1979. In 2016 the Kent City Council permitted that landlords file for inspections with no more than two unrelated persons.

Susel expects a positive effect on students regarding the health inspections. The most common violations have been related to safety concerns, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. 

“When they enacted this (in) 2016 it had been a focus over several years to ensure safe and decent housing, then the program is a benefit to all to ensure that properties are maintained safely and in a condition that everyone can be proud of,” Susel said. 

Susel doesn’t believe that rent will increase because of the inspection protocol and noted that the fee for the process is $5 per bedroom or $100 per building. The Health Department conducts an observation once a year while the Community Department does one every two years. 

Amanda Levine is an assigning editor. Contact her at [email protected]