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Rental housing inspections under way

The Madera rental housing inspection program, mandated last year by the passage of a rental housing inspection ordinance, is moving forward, according to Andrew Martinez, one of the inspectors who made a presentation about the program Wednesday evening during a meeting of the Madera City Council.

The council was sitting as the governing board of the Successor Agency to the former Redevelopment Agency, which picked up responsibility for the inspections once the ordinance was passed.

So far, 24 inspections have been scheduled and 22 of those have been completed.

The ordinance mandates that those with rental properties are required to register them with the city.

According to Claudia Mendoza of the Successor Agency, about 750 properties have been registered, and about 1,000 more need to be registered. Some 4,000 properties in all eventually will need to be registered, she said.

The present focus is on rental units built prior to the 1970s.

Inspectors focus on several items.

• Electricity — They look for obvious things, such as exposed wiring, lights hanging loose, overloaded circuits or wiring that is not done to code. Outlets are tested.

• Sanitation — Inspectors look for evidence of insects and rodents, pet urine and feces, clogged toilets and sinks.

• Structural hazards — Loose boards, broken glass, holes in floors, broken doors, broken tiles, loose stairs and loose railings are among the structural hazards that will attract inspectors’ attention, inside and outside.

• Plumbing problems — Leaks must be fixed, as must fixtures such as faucets and drains that don’t work. They look for dry rot or damp areas caused by plumbing that doesn’t work.

• Faulty burners on stoves — Especially burners that don’t work at all, which may be due to a short.

• Faulty weather protection, such as leaks around windows, air spaces where there should be none, holes in the roof, holes in walls, windows that allow rain inside.

• Faulty construction materials — This includes the use of string to hold things in place that should be secured by nails and screws, rope to tie something in place and plastic.

• Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers — These are required by law, and must be in working order.

Inspectors said the inspections are generally welcomed.

Nick Salinas, who provides outreach for the program, said “I usually get a handshake before I leave.”

Salinas said he also tries to teach tenants how to practice good upkeep and even make minor repairs.

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