08/10/09 — Goldsboro to look at housing code

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Goldsboro to look at housing code

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 10, 2009 1:46 PM

Goldsboro's chief building inspector is eyeing some significant additions to the local minimum housing ordinance -- changes that will ultimately translate into more attractive neighborhoods in the area, he said.

Ed Cianfarra discussed several measures with City Council members last week that would hold properties owners more accountable for the homes they reside in and rent out.

The "big thing" Cianfarra suggested was to adopt a program akin to the Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy ordinance used in Greensboro -- an ordinance that would require all rental property in the city to be registered with his office.

"Every piece of property (in Greensboro) is registered with the inspections department and there is a fee. Maybe $15. That fee is a licensing fee that (the property owner) gets charged every five years," Cianfarra said. "What happens is, as long as you have the license and receive no complaints, you can keep renting that apartment, that house."

But if a complaint comes in, the owner enters a process similar to the minimum housing process currently in place.

A warning is given -- along with 30 days to fix the problem -- only whereas the current process allows months and months before the property faces condemnation, only 60 days are allotted under RUCO before the dwelling is deemed unrentable.

Cianfarra said adopting a RUCO-like ordinance would encourage those who own rental property to meet higher standards.

And it would give the city a better sense of just what each house in the area is being used for.

"In Greensboro, they know what every single rental property is," he said. "Whether it be a single-family house or an apartment complex."

Cianfarra's comments were not limited to rental properties.

He also voiced concern over the state of foreclosed properties within the city.

"We have abandoned houses because of foreclosures. ... One of the problems we're having is that the banks are not taking responsibility for (them)," he said. "What we want to do is make it the bank's responsibility to keep these lots clean. They are not doing that. Neighbors are having to go over and cut the grass so it doesn't look like an abandoned house."

No decision was made on these -- or other -- additions to the minimum housing ordinance recommended by Cianfarra and his staff.

But council members were asked by the inspector to read over his suggestions before their Aug. 17 meeting.

"We adopted the state's code many years ago, but the minimum housing code has changed," Cianfarra said. "So what we're going to propose is the we make these changes to our minimum housing ordinance ... and adopt it."

The North Carolina Minimum Housing Code is available online at www.ncbia.com