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City to continue inspecting rental properties this summer

Inspections were halted due to COVID

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The City of Crawfordsville plans to continue inspecting rental properties this summer after halting the checkups due to COVID-19, Mayor Todd Barton said Monday.

The random inspections are part of Crawfordsville’s rental registration program, which requires landlords to file their properties with the city every year.

About two dozen inspections were completed last year before the pandemic, according to an annual report presented to the City Council’s Fiscal Affairs Committee. No fines were issued.

The city examines each rental property at least once every five years and conducts an inspection following a complaint. Owners can also request a walk-through before new tenants move in.

The program was enacted in 2016 to ensure that rental properties in Crawfordsville are safe and habitable. Landlords pay a $5 yearly registration fee.

More than 200 landlords registered 599 parcels with the city through Jan. 31, down from 622 parcels over the same period in 2019, according to the annual report.

Last year saw an increase in the number of individual units filed for inspection. There were 2,390 individual units registered in 2020 compared to 2,289 the previous year.

The city issued 35 violations for failure to register and all but six properties filed after receiving notice, according to the report.

Registering the units can help the city track which properties legitimately qualify for a homestead property tax deduction. A 2018 study commissioned by the city from Wabash College found several cases where non-resident landlords wrongly claimed the deduction.

“I would say [the number of units receiving the deduction is] a fraction of what it was,” Barton said in response to a question from councilman Mike Reidy.

More than 300 properties were claiming the exemption when the program began compared to 14 this year, the city said.

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