Surprising Twist: Aurora Rejects Rental Inspection Proposal!

Aurora City Council member Juan Marcano’s proposal to enhance health and safety standards for renters in the city did not advance from the study session held on Monday. The mayor mentioned that Marcano still has the option to bring it before the full council.

The measure received support from Marcano, Ruben Medina, Alison Coombs, and Crystal Murillo. Council members Francoise Bergan, Angela Lawson, Steve Sundberg, and Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Gardner were not present.

Marcano’s proposal involved the creation of a rental certification ordinance, which would have mandated that landlords ensure their rental units meet inspection criteria before a tenant moves in.

A memo from city staff to the council suggested modifications to the proposed ordinance, including the addition of definitions, expanded certification requirements, a higher percentage of units inspected (25%), the hiring of city-contracted inspection professionals rather than relying on landlords, the inclusion of additional reasons for denial, and the addition of enforcement provisions to promote code compliance and prevent tenant retaliation.

Marcano emphasized that his office had received numerous complaints about negligent landlords, with people living in appalling and unacceptable conditions. He shared his own experience of dealing with a maggot infestation in his relatively new “luxury building” where he is the sole tenant.

City staff presented data showing several units on Nome Street in violation, with one slide illustrating human waste covering the floor in one unit. Mold violations were also reported, leading to respiratory issues.

The city’s property inspections could take up to five years to cover all properties, but high-problem properties face more frequent inspections, some even annually. Sandra Youngman, the head of code enforcement, explained that they focus on life and safety issues, including rodent and insect infestations, tripping hazards, and the functionality of electrical outlets.

Council member Danielle Jurinsky voted against the proposal, expressing concerns about the lack of stakeholder engagement, despite Marcano’s claim of outreach efforts to renters. She emphasized that the proposal did not align with how many stakeholders felt about the issue.

Council member Alison Coombs, however, shared her personal rental experience, pointing out that some renters were living in completely uninhabitable conditions. She cited her own situation where the lease stipulated that she would be responsible for repair costs if she didn’t report certain problems within the first week of her tenancy.

Other council members, including Crystal Murillo, supported Marcano’s plan, highlighting the need to address inadequate living conditions. They argued that slumlords often consider code enforcement fines as just a cost of doing business.

Aurora currently has 17 code enforcement officers with two vacancies, which some council members considered insufficient for a city with a population of 400,000. Marcano’s plan included certification fees ranging from $175 for single-family homes to $675 for large apartment complexes.

The program’s estimated one-time costs included $300,000 for systems development, $50,000 for communications and outreach, and $141,000 for vehicles and equipment for code enforcement. Ongoing costs included $87,400 for each code officer, $108,000 for the supervisor, and $70,000 for each technician. Inspections were expected to incur pass-through expenses of $1,974,000 in year one and $836,000 in year two.

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