The City of Omaha has implemented a mandatory inspection of all rental properties to ensure they meet minimal health and safety requirements. If you are a landlord in Omaha, you should understand what is involved in an Omaha rental inspection.
Background on Omaha Rental Inspections
A few very public incidents of poorly maintained rental properties created support for Omaha to implement required inspections on all rental properties. Unfortunately, this adds a burden on good landlords. It remains to be seen if the delinquent landlords will even register.
As a law-abiding property owner, your first step is to register your rental property with the Omaha Permits and Inspections Division. We recommend registering within 30 days of purchasing a new rental, although you technically have 90 days. Your property manager may handle the registration for you.
Properties that pass the rental inspection will be placed on a 10-year list for their next inspection. If any defects are found, you will have 30 days to correct them.
When Will My Property be Inspected
Any problem property rental will be inspected first — these have had recent code violations or complaints. Also, any known rental property that hasn’t registered will receive an express pass to the front of the line (did I mention you should register quickly?). Any absentee owner should assume they will make the list (an absentee owner will have different addresses for property and mailing with the county appraiser’s office). It will likely take all of 2020 and 2021 to complete those inspections.
The city plans to start inspections on non-problem properties in 2022, but expect it to take through 2030 to get through them all. You can expect notification at least 14 days before your inspection time. Because the tenant must agree to the time (only during work hours), it will likely be a challenge for the city to schedule appointments with many tenants.
If you have single family home rentals, expect an inspection at every house. In multi-family units, plan for at least 15% of units to be inspected. If more than 20% have code violations, then all remaining units will be inspected.
How to Prepare for my Rental Inspection
You should perform a pre-inspection of your properties before the real inspection happens. Even if everything was perfect when you rented your property, who knows if the tenants disconnected annoying smoke detectors, removed electrical face plates, or dislodged the p-trap under the kitchen sink. The pre-inspection is your chance to make sure that YOUR property is being properly maintained.
The city has stated that they are looking for obvious health and safety issues. In general, they will be looking for visible signs as they walk around and through the unit. You shouldn’t need to worry about them trying to catch you or complaining about unpermitted work done by the previous owner. Their goal is to ensure basic habitability. You can view a sample inspection checklist and phots on their inspection education site.
Here are some things to look for:
- Electrical – Electrical boxes have covers and no exposed wires. No unsafe mingling of water and electrical systems. No blanks in the electrical panel that would allow someone to touch exposed wires.
- Plumbing – Faucets should have good water pressure and hot water should be available. Toilets flush and drain properly, and don’t run after being flushed.
- Interior – No signs of mold and mildew around the faucets and pipes or on walls and ceiling.
- Structural – Check the walls for cracks, holes, and chipped paint. Make sure there are no water stains on the ceiling or signs of mold anywhere thought the property.
- Smoke/CO Detectors – All smoke detectors in working order. One should be located in each common area, in the kitchen, and in each sleeping room. Also, smoke and CO alarms should be located on each floor of the home (the basement counts as a room).
- Kitchen – Check for leaky drains, damaged countertops, and loose floor tiles. Appliances should work.
- Bathroom – Make sure the sinks work and drain properly. Any safety hazards like broken mirrors.
- Doors – Make sure all doors open and close easily without sticking. All exterior doors need to be lockable.
- Windows – Windows should open and close, and be lockable from the inside.
- Heating and Cooling – The heating system should be capable of maintaining a minimum of 68 degrees when it is 24 degrees outside.
- Pests – There should be no visible evidence of rodents or insects such as bedbugs, ants, cockroaches, or silverfish.
The Landlord’s Responsibility
The landlord is responsible for providing a safe and well-maintained home for their tenant. The landlord needs to perform maintenance to the property as needed and make repairs when they arise. Just as if a tenant were to violate the lease, if a landlord is in violation, the tenant can break the lease and move out without penalty.
The Tenants Responsibility
Many times when a renter moves into a new unit, they will be given a checklist and asked to note any problems they find within the unit. Once the checklist has been completed, the owner or property manager will review the reported issues fix as needed. If you are a tenant, this is your chance to protect yourself for when it’s time to reclaim your security deposit. If you don’t list a problem when you move in, you may be liable for it when you move out.