(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In a surprise move to many, St. Joseph's city council approved a motion Monday night to make any future rental inspection program mandatory.
The item wasn't even on the meeting agenda, but was brought up by councilmember Brian Myers. He asked city staff, which was then supported by a 5-3 vote, to develop language for an ordinance that would make the program mandatory. In previous work sessions and discussion, an rental inspection program would involve voluntary participation by landlords and tenants.
The issue was first brought up several months ago as an effort to enhance community appearance.
However, landlords present at the meeting spoke almost unanimously against a mandatory program, citing costs and logistics as major concerns.
"This is a mistake. This will create a lot of problems," said Darren Burnett of St. Joseph. "There are ways to clean up the city. We need to quit blaming these landlords."
However, Myers said developing a mandatory program was a much larger issue than improving the looks of the city.
"These inspections aren't just about a physical appearance issue. It's a basic health and safety issue," he said. "You deserve to rent a property that does not have mold, that does not have a roof intact, that does not have a dirt floor, that does not have a hot water tank that's functional."
Before any kind of inspection program would become law, voluntary or mandatory, it would still need to go through two more hearings before it could be passed.