At a special meeting on Monday, June 24, the city council completed their work on the rental license and inspection ordinance.

The Sleepy Eye City Council has been working on a new ordinance for rental housing and rental inspections for several months. At a special meeting on Monday, June 24, they finally completed their work and held the first reading of the new ordinance.

A couple weeks ago, the council held an informational meeting for rental property owners to go over the ordinance and hear their concerns and suggestions. At Monday’s meeting, City Attorney Alissa Fischer presented the ordinance to the council and after a few minor changes or deletions, the council was ready to approve the ordinance with the first reading, the second reading (which adopts the ordinance) will be held at the regular July council meeting.

The new ordinance replaces a previous ordinance, which had not been enforced for several years. Fischer had advised the council that making changes to the original ordinance was more complicated than writing a new one.

The purpose of the ordinance is to establish and enforce minimum rental housing and maintenance standards for protection of public health, safety and welfare. Rental units must be in compliance with the city/state housing, building, and fire codes.

The council decided the ordinance does apply to rental units occupied by immediate family members of the property owner.

The ordinance spells out the procedure for obtaining a rental license, which includes an inspection of the rental unit every two years, when the license must be renewed. It gives the reason why a license may be denied, suspended, or revoked and the appeal process.

Fees for the license and any penalties for non-compliance will be set by resolution, rather than contained in the language of the ordinance. This allows the council to easily make adjustments to the fee schedule.

The council discussed creating an “early bird special” discounted license fee to encourage property owners to quickly start the process of licensing and inspection. They also considered a lower rate for renewals, and a graduated scale for multiple units.

The council will set the fees at the July 9 council meeting.