OGDEN -- Efforts are under way by the city of Ogden to step up inspections of homes that have been carved into rental units.
"We don't want to single out everyone (that has converted their home into rental units), but at the same time, we've got to keep it safe," Jonny Ballard, the city's community development manager, said Wednesday.
Numerous single-family home owners, particularly those with properties between 20th and 30th streets and from Washington to Harrison boulevards, are violating city zoning ordinances because they have converted their dwellings into multi-unit apartments to maximize their earning potential, Ballard said.
For example, Ballard said he recently became aware of a Madison Street property owner who had rented out his home's attic, main level, basement and garage, clearly in violation of the city's tenant occupancy regulations.
There is also concern that some rental units within homes have inadequate wiring and improperly sized windows that can't be accessed by firefighters and are situated in the same area as furnaces, which can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, Ballard said.
The city has had a regulation in place since 2004 that requires multiple-family rental dwelling applicants to obtain business licenses and to have their structures inspected by a city building official, a fire marshal and a representative of Weber-Morgan Health Department.
A written report is then supposed to be filed with the city's business license coordinator regarding whether the dwelling complies with city codes and is reasonably safe for occupancy.
It's been difficult for the city to enforce the ordinance because of a lack of inspectors, Ballard said.
However, efforts are under way to determine how those inspections can be effectively carried out by first developing a list of all rental units in Ogden, he said.
The city also is looking at completing home inspections based on tenant complaints.
After procedures are in place, inspections likely would start on a small scale, perhaps 20 to 30 homes at a time, so that building and code enforcement officials can keep up with the work, Ballard said.
Bob Hill, president of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors, said if the city can't afford to hire more building inspectors, it should consider offering incentives to encourage developers to build more affordable low-income housing.
It's also important for the city to enforce its zoning laws to ensure that renters have safe places to live while preserving the quality of neighborhoods, Hill said.
"Zoning enforcement is the biggest impact for (property) values in residential areas," he said.