Inspections to Southampton rental property should also be done

Published 8:48 am Monday, October 3, 2016

To the Editor:

In regard to rental property inspections, I hope the inspections will also apply to property in Southampton County. I expect the inspection fee will be minimal.

I have always been amazed of the lack of oversight of rental property in this area. I have owned many properties in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and out of state. All had basic expectations of the property that must be met before the tenant was allowed to obtain utilities services in their name.

By basic, the property had to be painted, clean, and functioning 100 percent in terms of power, water, sewer, heat. Since moving here, I have become acquainted with many folks living in substandard housing. Especially preyed upon are young people with no experience in regard to what to expect/demand from their landlords. Scam Number One: The landlords offer to include the cost of electricity in the rent. This seems like a positive thing to some one not understanding what they are getting into.

This offer has usually been made because there is some major issue (septic problems, mold, unsafe water supply, structural issues etc.) that would not muster inspection, and are unsafe to the health and well being of the tenants. Secondly, I have witnessed this offer being made because said property is not supposed to be rented in the first place, and has electricity running from the main structure on the property to an outbuilding/trailer that should not be inhabited. No separate meter exists.

I could go on. These situations that I have witnessed have not turned out in favor of the tenant, who has little recourse with these “under the table” deals. It is the obligation of the landlord to meet these basic requirements before renting their property.

The landlords who are not meeting the requirements will definitely not be able to pocket the profits they are now seeing, but will have to stop living off the backs of others and be responsible.

If your property meets the requirements, then you are a good landlord and have nothing to worry about.

As to the supposed increase in “boarded up vacant buildings,” I hope that the city/county inspectors will put pressure on these absentee landlords to take action to clean up abandoned property.

I have lived here almost ten years, and see the same empty, dilapidated, almost falling down properties that were already in that state when I first moved here. I suspect that by actively enforcing the existing building codes, the numbers of the buildings could be greatly reduced. Plus, there needs to be a dis-incentive to owning an empty building that remains empty for long periods of time.

Many local structures are empty because the landlords are not realistic in regard to what the market will support in terms of sale or rent. They may own the property out right, and instead of accepting a realistic monthly payment, or a fair market offer, they hold out, for years and years and let the building deteriorate rather than accepting the fact that they are not going to get what they think.

There is no incentive to make them lease/sell the property, and it is no skin off of their nose if it sits empty at little cost to them. I know we can all name ten empty businesses that expect to bring in more rental income or a higher sale price than the market can support.

We should welcome enforcements that require that basic standards of living are upheld in this area.

Toni Dellinger Nolf