Rental inspection good idea for all


Editorial Board

The Issue:The City of Brookings has allocated $60,000 for rental housing inspection.

The Stance:This is a good start, but if all landlords were honest, inspections would not be necessary.

We all know someone with a rental-house horror story: the nursing student who lived in a completely electrified apartment, the political science student who thinks her house is growing black mold or the math major who has woken up to his landlord showing off his bedroom to potential victims. Tales like these have sparked efforts to keep students safer, including a link to available housing on MyStateOnline ( and an annual housing fair. The latest effort came when the Brookings City Council approved a line item that provided $60,000 for rental housing inspection.

The money will fund a code enforcement officer, a newly created position that will inspect houses he or she receives complaints about. This new person will serve as a single entity to voice complaints to instead of being told, “talk to your city council representative.”

Rental housing is an issue that extends past SDSU students and affects the entire community. The elderly, families and people from all walks of life rent their homes and are subject to the wide range in quality. Safety is the main issue effecting renters. An electric showerhead is not safe. Black mold is toxic, and toxic means the opposite of safe.

Another thing Brookings citizens should be concerned about is the aesthetics of rental housing. While many people in Brookings clearly take pride in their homes, they are usually homeowners. Renters aren’t as invested in their houses, but the landlord should be. A dwelling that has mushrooms growing in the basement is probably not well cared for on the outside either. It’s hard to take pride in a city when many houses look like a wrecking ball is on the way. The city mandates licensing and is supposed to inspect all rental houses every three years, but many landlords find ways around licensing, and in a town with an abundance of rentals, the city has a difficult time keeping up with inspections.

Improving the rental system in Brookings could be beneficial economically, as well. It cannot be easy to market a town as “attractive” and “family-friendly” when lawns are overgrown with grass and weeds and older houses are falling apart. Keeping our rental homes clean and safe will show companies who might relocate in Brookings that the city does care for all its citizens.

The first step for anyone experiencing problems with their landlord is to document the problems. Write down what the trouble in your house is, whether you need a window replaced, your heat turned on or that your landlord needs to respect your privacy. Keep track of when and how often you complain to your landlord and write down his or her response and the actions that were taken. If you still are not satisfied, take your records to the city council and request an inspection.

Hopefully this increase in funding for rental inspections will help spur landlords to take care of the product they are trying to sell and offer better customer service to renters throughout Brookings. In a perfect world, all landlords would care about the well being of their residents, and rental housing inspection wouldn’t be necessary. With any luck, the city will be able to use this $60,000 to force the infamous slumlords to cleanup their acts along with their houses.