The long awaited Baltimore City Rental Inspection form has arrived. Along with it have been constant phone calls and endless emails as landlords and inspectors alike try to determine the easiest path through this inspection mess.
It’s obvious to me, and I’m sure my colleagues will agree, that no Home Inspectors were consulted when the Baltimore City Rental Inspection criteria was finalized.
I’m not going to waste any words about what’s right with the inspection sheet. It’s been long overdue, but the three pages of inspection items show that the City took little notice of its County neighbor whose successful inspection program has been running for the last 10 years with a single page.
One of the first oversights made by the city is simply that the properties involved are mostly occupied. Furnished homes provide obstacles to any Home Inspection as many areas are obscured by furnishings. Home Inspectors do not move furniture and tenants will have a legitimate concern that their property may be damaged during the inspection should that be necessary.
Some of the inspection items are vague and do not provide a standard. Home Inspectors are not ‘Code’ inspectors nor are they supposed to be. The City needs to specify the requirements for a ‘pass’ when needed.
All told the inspection sheet is a big ‘FAIL’ by itself. A landlord with no inspection background should be able to decipher what’s needed and make his/her property ready for inspection. Otherwise a great many landlords will be paying for TWO inspections.
The ultimate cost of inspections will be borne by the renter. While the intent may be to make Baltimore housing healthier and safer, the poor, who can barely make ends meet now, may just find themselves poorer as a result of these inspections.