The ordinance was already on the books, and on Monday, city officials agreed to expand the area where inspections of rental homes are allowed to include most of the center of the city.
The expanded residential inspection district, which had originally applied to the Highland View Redevelopment Area, could include about 1,700 rental units.
The Oak Ridge City Council unanimously endorsed the expansion during a Monday night meeting.
If approved on second and final reading in September, the larger district would apply to the Manhattan District Overlay, which includes Highland View and a swath of properties north of Oak Ridge Turnpike from East Drive in east Oak Ridge to Bryn Mawr Circle in west Oak Ridge. The MDO also includes properties in the Woodland, Scarboro, and Burnham Woods neighborhoods.
The current ordinance includes an initial inspection as well as periodic and follow-up inspections. There is a provision for a $50-per-day penalty for owners who refuse to comply.
On Monday, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said the city could be expected to conduct up to about 95 inspections per month but cannot charge for the service. The inspections cannot be long and drawn-out, he said.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Watson said.
He said the number of inspections could be reduced by those conducted under federal housing guidelines or by private inspectors.
Watson said the Oak Ridge Fire Department—which is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week—could conduct the initial inspections, checking for life, fire, and utility safety issues.
The City Council approved an inspection ordinance in 2007 that applied to Highland View, but the program was not implemented. Tennessee law allows Oak Ridge to create residential rental inspection districts and inspect homes within the districts that are deteriorated or deteriorating.
See the agenda from Monday night’s Oak Ridge City Council meeting here.