Every Property in the City Limits now must be registered under the Habitability Ordinance. This registration is free and protects individual employees from personal liability for alleged code violations.
Even though the Habitability Ordinance has been on the books for 10 years, the department has developed and is now in full force operation. Do you know when your property will have its next inspection? Do you know what to expect?
LGI has extensive and successful experience with these inspections.
According to the City of Houston, here are their recommendations:
In November 2009, Houston City Council adopted ordinance 2009-1043 to provide for the registration and inspection of all multi-family properties with 3 or more units. All properties will be inspected on a rotating basis to ensure that they meet Chapter 10 Minimum Standards.
Two types of inspections are conducted:
Service Request Inspections - These are inspection requests received from 311, Mayor and City Council, and other City departments. The complaint issue as well as programmatic issues will be inspected.
Programmatic Inspections - These are routine inspections to ensure that apartments maintain their properties; complexes with 3 or more units will be inspected on a rotating basis. Inspectors look for significant risks of structural failures, electrical hazards, plumbing violations, mechanical violations, and swimming pool violations. In addition the inspection verifies permit compliance.
Frequently asked questions
What is the purpose of the Multi-Family Habitability ordinance?
The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure that all apartments with three or more units are registered and inspected on a regular basis, and meet minimum property standards.
What kinds of properties are included in the program?
The program is for 3 or more unit multi-tenant homes that are leased, rented, or occupied by someone other than the owner of the property.
What are the penalties for failure to register an occupied rental property?
The Habitability group has identified these rental properties using a variety of sources, and will conduct inspections of these properties. Notices of violation will be issued to property owners for any rental property found in violation of the registration requirement. Citations will be issued for failure to comply with the registration requirement and fines will range from $500 - $2,000.
What is the purpose of the Habitability inspection?
The purpose of the inspection is to establish minimum habitability standards for multi-family rental buildings, including maintenance of proper operating conditions.
What is required to register an apartment in the Multi-Family Habitability Database?
The owner must have a valid Harris County Tax Identification Number, a Certificate of Occupancy Number and information related to the property.
Does the LGI Habitability group inspect duplexes?
What sort of property issues are handled by Habitability?
Property issues include: electrical, structural, and plumbing issues as well as some swimming pool, mold, trash, and pests.
My apartment has mold, will the LGI help me?
Yes, LGi will connect you with a Mold Assessment Consultant to assess your apartment.
Sewage is standing outside my apartment unit, is this a Habitability issue?
Yes, raw sewage is a serious health and environmental issue. LGI works with various environmental consultants and will send one out to assess your issue.
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY
Who Needs a Certificate of Occupancy?
The procedure and requirements for a certificate of occupancy vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and on the type of commercial property. In general however it’s required when
A new building is built
When a property is changing from one use to another(e.g. an industrial building changed to residential use)
Change of ownership
Occupancy of a commercial building changes
When doing tenant finish outs and a permit is required
General Building Inspection
The building housing your small business must pass inspection from a state-licensed general inspector in areas including electrical wiring, structural integrity and plumbing. Inspecting these systems ensures the building is safe for human use and facilities meet the requirements of the state's Building Code. If a general inspector isn't available you may need to secure the services of several different state-licensed inspectors to satisfy the inspection requirements. You must make any alterations to the systems an inspector recommends before your small business can pass inspections and be a step closer to earning a certificate of occupancy.
Health Board Inspection
The state's health board must usually inspect your business facilities to ensure your septic systems are working properly before clearing your way to a certificate of occupancy. Inspecting your small business's septic system is important to ensure your on-site storage tanks have no leaks or clogs in the lines that can cause the system to back up or leak into the surrounding soil. You or the building's owner must make all changes or repairs recommended by the health department before your business can open its doors.
Fire Marshal Inspection
Your small business must obtain the approval of the local fire marshal having jurisdiction over the business before it can earn a certificate of occupancy. The fire marshal inspects the space where you intend to house your business, including verifying the working status of all smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, before determining how many people can safely enter your business at any one time. You must make all necessary changes to your building's fire safety procedures before the fire marshal will issue you formal paperwork certifying your building for occupancy for a specific number of people.
Other Required Inspections
Facility inspection requirements for your small business may vary depending on the type of equipment you have installed on premises. For example, if you have a working elevator you must obtain certification from a state elevator inspector before you can apply for a certificate of occupancy. This is also the case for any water purification systems you have working on site as well as any systems under high pressure, including a boiler or other water heater.