The Pine River City Council took steps Tuesday, July 9, to encourage rental property owners in Pine River to keep their properties in safe, presentable shape through a registration process, and adopted a housing maintenance code.

A letter sent to potential rental properties read, “The City of Pine River has adopted a housing maintenance code by ordinance, thereby establishing a policy to enhance the supply of safe, sanitary and adequate housing for its citizens and to prevent the deterioration of existing housing in the city.”

This letter was sent to any properties suspected of being rental properties. In addition, those who own rental properties in the city are now required to register with the city and pay a $40 fee per dwelling unit per year. The letter also included all application forms required for registration, as well as a declaration of non-rental for anyone who may have received the notice by mistake.

The city requires applications be returned by Aug. 1. Applicants will then have an initial inspection by the city's building inspector, who will highlight any issues that need to be corrected.

The new ordinance details the city's expectations for rental properties as far as maintenance, lighting, ventilation and heating and how the city plans to enforce those expectations. Those who do not license their rental properties will be charged fees: $25 for up to 30 days after June 1, $75 for 31-60 days, $150 for 61-120 days and $450 for over 121 days plus misdemeanor charges.

The ordinance also defines the city's right to have a housing inspector or authorized representative inspect rental units to ensure they meet requirements. In some cases that inspection may include court authorization and warrants.

The ordinance also defines the responsibilities of owners and occupants for the maintenance of such properties. For example, the owner of a rental property is responsible for maintaining the structure, but the renter is responsible for cleanliness of the property during their dwelling time.

The ordinance was adopted in response to the city finding that there are several rental housing properties that appear to be substandard in structure, equipment, maintenance or occupancy.

“Such conditions adversely affect public health and safety and lead to the continuation, extension and aggravation of blight,” the ordinance reads.

Some properties can be granted a temporary permit for emergency circumstances.

The city's expectations for rental properties include: no chipping paint, doors and windows that are weather-tight, sound foundations and roofs, chimneys and decks that are in good repair, access to hot and cold running water, and proper egress windows on all sleeping rooms, among others.

Many of the items on the city's check list are safety oriented requirements, while some are about appearance of the property. All rental ordinance details can be found at cityofpineriver.org under the ordinances tab in the menu on the left, or at city hall.

In other business July 9, the council:

  • Accepted resignation of police officer Joseph Bouley.
  • Approved a pay request to Grindor Construction for the water project. The city is able to begin submitting paperwork for reimbursement now.
  • Approved a request for rental of a camping space at Forbes Park for a couple who may be staying longer than 15 days, which requires council approval.
  • Approved contracting with Justin Clasen to review and clean up the city's tax-increment financing accounts and documents at a cost of up to $2,000.
  • Agreed to look into an ordinance to discourage feeding feral cats in the city.