Help For Tenants (or Renters)
A tenant may request an inspection of their rental unit to identify code violations. Tenants are encouraged to first contact their landlord about needed repair or maintenance services. However, if the landlord does not respond, a tenant can request an inspection of the inside of their apartment and the outside public areas of the property. A full inspection report is mailed to the property owner in the form of a violation notice.
Property owners are given a limited amount of time to correct violations. If corrections are not made, the property owner is subject to legal action through the Code Enforcement Board or County court. The tenant's name and telephone number is recorded in a database case record. This information is needed in order to schedule an appointment for the inspection and to record who gave permission to inspect. The tenant must be present when the inspection is conducted. The tenant should also cooperate by allowing the landlord access to appropriate areas of the property in order to perform needed repairs.
Requirements for Rental Property Owners
In addition to requirements for federal, state and local licensing, taxes, etc., owners of residential rental property in St. Petersburg must maintain the property as required by the minimum property maintenance and zoning codes.
In addition to performing inspections at the request of a resident tenant, the department may inspect rental units through the following two rental housing inspection programs authorized under the code:
Certificate of Inspection Program
The Certificate of Inspection Program (CIP) was created in 1988 to assist neighborhoods to preserve rental housing, prevent blight, and ensure quality rental housing units in the City. Implementation of this program is labor intensive, and therefore, the ordinance authority to implement the program is limited to neighborhoods which request it, meet specific ordinance criteria, and are approved by City Council. In areas which have adopted this program, a Certificate of Inspection is required for rental units prior to occupancy. Structures less than five years old are exempt. The Certificate of Inspection is valid for one year or until a change in tenancy occurs, whichever is the greater period.
There is no charge for this inspection, however if code violations are discovered, the property owner may incur some cost in making the necessary improvements. For statistical information on the CIP program please see the CCAD Annual Report.
For information on the boundaries for Council approved CIP areas, see the Certificate of Inspection Program neighborhoods map. View Map
Rental Housing Inspection Program
In 2004 the City Council adopted an amendment to Article VII, Chapter 2, Section 8-231 of the City code regulating any property with three (3) or more residential rental housing units within the City that:
- Has had one or more vegetation overgrowth violations which have been remedied by the City, or
- Has a "recurrent" qualifying violation of the City Code. Properties subject to these regulations are required to have interior inspections of rental housing units, common tenant space, and public areas. Qualifying violations fall into one of the following categories:
- Evidence of fire damage
- Code required egress openings not maintained
- Roof disrepair
- Structural disrepair
- Junk and rubbish
- Electrical violation
- Defective potable water or sanitary sewer
- Structural work without permits
The ordinance targets the worst problem properties having serious visible exterior violations which remain uncorrected for an unreasonable amount of time, or occur again within a short period of time. When a qualifying violation is not corrected or recurs within defined times frames, inspections of rental unit interiors are required for unoccupied units, and will be requested for occupied units, just as with the Certificate of Inspection program. Once a property is determined to be subject to interior inspection, the Certificate of Inspection requirements for interior rental unit inspection are applied to the property for a two-year period.
There are two possible results:
- The ordinance will be an incentive for rental property owners to promptly correct exterior violations and to prevent the serious violations from occurring again in order to avoid the trouble of interior inspections, or
- An additional violation will be cited anytime a vacant unit is re-occupied within a two-year period without the required interior inspection. The code defines severe exterior violations, how these violations are determined to exist, and time frames during which correction is required to avoid further action.