Friday, May 29, 2009

Apartment Inspections are Coming

It appears that the legislature will pass a bill requiring Houston to draft an ordinance governing the inspection of multi-family housing. The city sought the bill to clarify its authority. The Chronicle reports:
The bill requires the city to craft an ordinance by December 2010 that details standards for habitability and health and safety at multifamily properties. A key provision, already passed by the House, would also require a proactive inspections program by the city’s building, fire and health officials, rather than the current system that largely is driven by resident complaints.

And who will pay for these inspections? Undoubtedly, the owners of multi-family housing properties, who will then pass these costs on to their residents. Since the majority of the properties at issue are for low-income citizens, the poor are going to be negatively impacted by this bill.

Co-author of the bill, Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, said:
Regular inspections are important because owners of these properties will now know that an inspection is coming and will not be able to shirk their responsibilities by simply relying on a complaint from a resident.

If the property owners are truly "shirking their responsibilities" then this is a civil matter, that is, a breach of their agreement with residents. This is not an issue in which the city or the state should be involved, except to resolve any disputes that arise.

And what about the responsibilities of the residents? Shouldn't they exercise some discretion when selecting a home? Don't they have a responsibility for their actions? Apparently the legislature doesn't think so.

This paternalism is precisely one reason why individuals refuse to take any responsibility for their own actions. They can engage is careless behavior and then rush to government to bail them out. They expect government to take care of them, and unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of legislators willing to do so.

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