The city of Menomonie is set to eliminate annual inspections for rental properties, a move that’s required to stay compliant with state law, city officials said Monday.

The city council Monday unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance changing limitations placed on city landlords.

To comply with a change in state law, the city’s annual inspection program will be abolished, said the city’s Chief Building Inspector John Dahl.

The move won’t end all rental property inspections in Menomonie.

The city will be able to inspect rental properties on a complaint basis, Dahl said.

If a renter, neighbor or city resident complains to the city about a property, the city may inspect the property. If a violation is found and not corrected within 30 days, the landlord will be charged a $75 special inspection fee, according to the ordinance.

The city will also offer voluntary inspections, starting at $30 for a single dwelling unit. Under that policy, landlords can request the city inspect any property to find out the condition of the rental.

New rental properties must also be inspected after a “change of use,” or if the property is changed from a single-family home to a rental, Dahl said.

“The rules for rentals are still the same. The life and safety rules are still the same. We just have to eliminate our annual inspection programs,” Dahl said.

Those life and safety rules stipulate a rental must have access to at least two exits, functioning smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and up-to-code plumbing, electrical and mechanical work.

City attorney Ben Ludeman said the move isn’t optional: “In a number of municipalities around the state, pretty much everybody I’ve looked at has repealed regularly scheduled inspections.”

However, all landlords must register their rental properties, which includes a one-time $10 fee, Dahl said.

Rental properties must be registered with the city by July 22, 2019, according to the ordinance.

The city council is expected to repeal the current ordinance at its June 17 meeting.

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