Connect with us

Local Government

Town attorney responds to rental inspection questions

Published

on

Town Attorney Doug Napier says rental protections must be crafted within State guidelines – guidelines restricting some municipal actions suggested on Sept. 25. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Front Royal Town Attorney Doug Napier says suggested alternatives to a property maintenance code designed to hold residential landlords accountable for the condition of their properties are legally unfounded.

At a September 25 public hearing Napier did not attend due to a scheduled vacation, local landlord and attorney David Silek suggested alternative methods of enforcement.  Those included a town-wide inspection district and prosecution of so-called “slumlords” under public nuisance statutes.

Silek questioned the legality of primary enforcement in a specified district, rather than town wide.  As Royal Examiner has reported, the proposed Rental Inspection District extends from one block south of Prospect Street at the 300 block of South Royal Avenue to 2nd Street at Virginia Avenue to the north; and Water Street to the east and Luray Avenue and several nearby alleyways to the west.

Inside the new district the Town could initiate inspections.  And while inspections could also be initiated on a request or complaint basis throughout town, it has been pointed out during work session discussion that, that may not be an effective policy.  That is because of tenant fears that reporting abuses could lead retribution by the landlord and eviction.

However, specified enforcement districts are required by State law, Napier says.  And he believes citizen complaints about specific properties fall under private nuisance statutes that must be prosecuted in civil court by the complainant.  That is a legal protection without real teeth, Napier observed, since renters in such situations rarely have the financial resources to pursue personally-financed civil litigation.

Municipal prosecution under public nuisance or public health statutes must involve a nuisance or health hazard that threatens a larger swath of the population than one apartment or even one building, Napier said of his reading of state guidelines.

Contacted on Oct. 4, Napier said he was preparing a memo to council indicating his legal position that the draft Property Maintenance Ordinance or a close approximation of it and its Rental Inspection District is, in fact, the Town’s best legal path forward on renter protections.

One property oft-cited by tenants and former tenants as one of the worst examples of rental-standard abuse is on the 100 block of South Royal Avenue near the Front Royal town center. Reader comments have suggested that the landlord owns many other properties described as “just as bad” throughout Front Royal.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kim Matejka

    October 9, 2017 at 6:48 am

    I have emailed you over 60 pics of the inside… maybe you should publish a few of those to really show people what it’s like….not just the exterior…

  2. Deirdre Thomas

    October 9, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Royal Arms apartments need a definite shake up. There is black mold in their walls. Their way of repair is not to tear out the drywall, but paint over it. The mold comes back. Fixtures are old and need replacement. Some tenants are afraid to complain or they will be forced to leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

—– Which side are you on? —– Get your t-shirt!

Upcoming Events

May
24
Thu
all-day Shoe Drive Fundraiser @ Living Water Christian Church
Shoe Drive Fundraiser @ Living Water Christian Church
May 24 all-day
Shoe Drive Fundraiser @ Living Water Christian Church
Living Water Christian Church is currently holding a shoe drive to help raise funds for their local backpack mission program through May 26, 2018.  Donations of gently used, gently worn or new shoes are accepted. [...]
10:15 am SPL Youth Events @ Samuels Public Library
SPL Youth Events @ Samuels Public Library
May 24 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
SPL Youth Events @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler Story time 11:00 Preschool Story time Pack your bags and load up the car as we enjoy stories and crafts about a summer favorite:  Road Trip!  Siblings welcome.
3:00 pm Walker Jones, PC open house @ Walker Jones, PC
Walker Jones, PC open house @ Walker Jones, PC
May 24 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Walker Jones, PC open house @ Walker Jones, PC
Walker Jones, PC, an AV-rated award-winning law firm with offices in Warrenton and Washington, is holding an Open House from 3pm to 6pm on Thursday, May 24th at their new offices at 257 Gay Street[...]
May
25
Fri
7:00 pm Barefoot in the Park @ Selah Theatre Project
Barefoot in the Park @ Selah Theatre Project
May 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Barefoot in the Park @ Selah Theatre Project
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK | Presented by Selah Theatre Project Front Royal, VA – Neel Gill and Sarah Millard star in BAREFOOT IN THE PARK by Neil Simon. Selah Theatre Project is thrilled to bring this[...]
May
26
Sat
2:00 pm Community Outreach Concert @ Gazebo
Community Outreach Concert @ Gazebo
May 26 @ 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Community Outreach Concert @ Gazebo
Dynamic Life Ministries will be hosting an outreach/concert event at the Gazebo Area located at Main/Chester Streets. Enjoy music, food, face painting, balloon art and corn hole toss. Community is invited!