City of Fresno to inspect rental properties online during pandemic

The inspections will all be done by phone or live feed.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After a successful trial run, the city of Fresno is changing the way rental properties are inspected.

About 55% of property within the city is leased and subject to random inspections.

But due to COVID-19, code enforcement officials are no longer touring homes and apartments in person.

The inspections will all be done by phone or live feed.

The changes were made because face-to-face visits became too tedious, time-consuming, and hazardous for code enforcement officers who were visiting various homes a day for inspections. Every stop required a series of safety steps.

"It has been a little bit slower because it takes more time to get all the equipment on, get cleaned afterwards, get de-sanitized before you get back into your vehicle, but it's still an important work for us," says Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias.

Since the program began in 2018, on average, code enforcement officers have inspected 720 homes and apartments. Inspectors are looking for health and safety concerns and fire hazards.

Landowners whose units were randomly selected were charged $100 for the inspection. For some who own and manage the property, the fees were especially unwelcome now.

"Property owners are already impacted with COVID, the tenants are impacted with COVID. So charging a fee on top of the taxes they already pay seems a bit redundant," says Shelby Dart with Dart Realty and Property Management.

But now, the city attorney is recommending the fee for virtual inspections be eliminated altogether.

Several landlords and property managers are grateful for the move- especially since the pandemic has caused financial strain.

"I do think the timing is right to eliminate the fee. I think everyone is under an extreme amount of pressure, everybody's resources are tapped to the max, between property managers, owners, tenants," says Dart.

The council will now have to approve the recommendation to waive the fee before it formally takes effect.

Depending on the success of the virtual inspections, city leaders may consider making them permanent even after the pandemic.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.