5/18/2017 7:30:00 AM Discussion centers on rental inspections
by Sandy Hadler
Pete Schaffer, a rental property owner in Hampton, was in attendance at the May 9 Hampton city council meeting to continue discussion about Hampton's rental building ordinance, which had been discussed at the April meeting.
He said, "At the last meeting, we left wondering if your ordinance was valid and had been published."
Mayor John Knetter responded, "We learned that it had been published in the Cannon Falls paper. Our attorney said it is legal and enforceable."
Schaffer asked if they had given any thought to a moratorium, before going forward with enforcing the ordinance.
Knetter responded that the City would not consider a moratorium. He told Schaffer, "We said we'd check into it and we have. We found out that the ordinance is valid. We have statements of fact, meeting minutes, and when it was updated. We just received the information the day before yesterday."
Schaffer asked what would happen if the Council learned that inspections are a violation of the constitution.
Knetter ignored the question and asked Schaffer if he had rental housing in any other community, and if that community requires rental inspections.
Schaffer said he had rental property in Hastings, but he didn't know for sure if they required inspections. Someone from the public said that Hastings does require inspections. It was noted that Cannon Falls, Eagan, Randolph and Elko do not.
Knetter pointed out that 95% of the rental property owners in Hampton are in compliance with the ordinance.
Schaffer questioned, "What if I disagree with the rental inspection?" Knetter told him he had several options. He could choose not to comply, or not have rental property in town.
Knetter asked if he disagreed with the CDA's inspection, which assures that buildings comply with the City's fire code, and he responded, "No, because I volunteer to accept tax payment money from them."
Schaffer added, "Where I'm leading to is that it will end up with an attorney, court, and the whole nine yards. That's why I asked for a moratorium." He noted that since January 2017 the issue has been in the forefront of the Minnesota State Supreme Court. Schaffer said, "It is occurring right as we speak. It is 100% against the constitution."
From what Schaffer mentioned, it appeared the court had actually been discussing the legality of search warrants.
Knetter retorted, "No one is asking for a search warrant."
Schaffer responded, "But if you don't have a search warrant, you can't do an inspection of a building, if the resident chooses not to let you in."
The conversation went round and round, and came to no resolution. Knetter said the City had complied with what Schaffer had asked for, and the Council planned to continue to enforce its ordinance.
Schaffer thanked the Council for their time, and the meeting was adjourned.