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Town Talk: Registration and inspection of residential rental property

If you own or live in a residential rental property, you’re likely familiar with the City of New Ulm registration and inspection program (City Ordinance Section 11.30). If you’re not familiar with this, we have important information to share with you.

In 2010, the City Council determined there was a need for periodic inspections of rental units to ensure such units meet codes relating to safety. They also determined a registration program was an appropriate way to enforce these standards. This program has been in existence for over 10 years with registrations managed by Fire Department staff and inspections completed by the Fire Chief. In 2020, 1,634 units were registered within the City of New Ulm with inspections scheduled every two years.

Property owners who rent, lease or provide non-owner occupied housing are required to register this property on an annual basis. An annual fee of $30 per unit is due at the time of registration. Registration enables the city to contact property owners in case of an emergency, for inspection purposes, and to ensure the owner understands his/her obligations under the City Ordinance. Throughout the year, if a property owner sells or purchases additional property, changes address or phone number, a call to the Fire Department office to update information is appreciated.

The initial inspection of a rental property will occur as soon as possible upon registration, preferably prior to being occupied with subsequent inspections completed every two years thereafter. There is no additional fee for the inspection. A few of the common codes on the inspection checklist include checking for working smoke and CO alarms; ensure smoke detectors are less than 10 years old; checking for an appropriate tagged/tested fire extinguisher; ensure proper egress and that egress are free from obstructions; checking for a properly vented dryer; ensure proper electrical usage (no multi-plug adaptors or extension cords used as permanent wiring); and if there are visible 4″ building/house numbers, just to name a few. The inspections are intended to bring awareness to corrections that are needed and provide guidance on making those corrections. It is our goal for property owners to provide safe housing for their tenants.

We have witnessed many positive outcomes as a result of this program. We encourage landlords, tenants or anyone to contact us at 507-359-8225 if you have additional questions or concerns regarding this program.

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