Friday, January 4, 2013

The Town of Durham is on the verge of passing a “NEW” Housing Standards Ordinance.

Its important to also pay attention to local legislative action. For more information, please contact Tom Toye at 603-413-6175

The town of Durham is on the verge of passing a COC like ordinance.  Currently Manchester is the only NH town or city that has this.

A very short version is that apartments will be forced to have a recurring inspection that the property owner has to pay for and which will likely trigger many repairs some of which some could be quite costly.  If Durham gets it then it will be more and more likely that it will eventually come to your town too.

The Town of Durham is presently scheduled to hold a public hearing on this ordinance at its regular Council meeting at 7 PM, Monday, January 7, 2013.  We very strongly recommend that each and every one of you speak at this meeting.  If you cannot attend, then please write a letter to Mr. Todd Selig, Town Manager, 15 Newmarket Road, Durham, NH  03824 or E-mail to

Thank you for your attention to this important topic.  We recommend that you forward this letter to other landlords as well as owners of fraternities/sororities and/or the UNH Inter-fraternity and Panhellenic Councils. The managers of the DLA will be discussing this ordinance at our January meeting. 

Here's a copy of the letter from Tom Richardson, Chair of the Durham Landlords Association

Dear Members of the Durham Landlords Association and other non-member residential Durham landlords,

The Town of Durham is on the verge of passing a “NEW” Housing Standards Ordinance.

 The purpose of the ordinance is to protect the health and safety of occupants of residential rental properties in Durham, a program that seeks to correct dilapidation, dangerous defects which are likely to result in fire, accidents or other calamities, unhealthful lack of ventilation or sanitary facilities or due to other unhealthy or hazardous or dilapidated conditions. In addition, the ordinance will not only mandate safety inspections of ALL apartments in Durham, it will also pass on the FULL COST OF A NEW FIRE INSPECTOR and a DEDICATED PART-TIME ADMINISTRATOR to the owners of the inspected properties.  Although this ordinance is intended to address concerns with apartments and rental houses that are NOT professionally managed, it will impact all residential landlords (large, small, professional, non-professional) as well as owners of fraternities and sororities. For further clarification of this new ordinance, please contact Mr. Todd Selig, Town Manager, 15 Newmarket Road, Durham, NH  03824 or E-mail Todd at

According to section IV. B of the ordinance, the inspection is for residential rental property owners but shall not include the owners of dormitories at UNH, hotels, inns or bed and breakfasts, but does include the owners of fraternities and sororities.  Under this ordinance, the Durham Fire Chief or designee has the responsibility to investigate the dwelling conditions in the municipality in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation. The Fire Chief/designee may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if it is found that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health and safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of such municipality.

Under the ordinance, all owners of residential rental property in Durham shall identify their rental property and request an inspection in writing from the Fire Department of all of their residential rental properties and dwelling units within 60 days of adoption of this ordinance. Any residential rental property owner who fails to request the inspection within the specified timeframe will be fined $1,000. The residential property owner will be responsible for paying an inspection fee as well as re-inspection fees and non-complaint fines. It appears that for a typical accessory apartment in a home, the inspection fee will be a $130 base fee plus $25 for the apartment plus $25 for the owner-occupied portion of the home for a total inspection fee of $180.  Any violations would result in a re-inspection fee and possibly daily non-compliant fines.  For the larger properties in Durham, the inspection fee could be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, i.e. a 26-unit apartment building would have an inspection fee of $780!

Durham residential landlords pay exorbitant property taxes. Many have the added burden of providing trash removal service and private security service to police their property. The addition of an inspection fee is illogical and biased.  The Town of Durham wants to conduct legitimate health and safety inspections and has every legal right to do so. However, it is illegal to target only residential landlords and to apply the proposed costs, which burdens these businesses even further. Why is this not a health and safety ordinance versus targeting residential rental properties? The business of a residential landlord is no different than any other business in regards to taxation and fees, so why not include hair and nail salons, restaurants, food stores, etc. in the inspection process?  Perhaps every business in Durham, including homes that are listed as the legal address for any business, should also fall under this inspection process and taxation.

Tom Richardson,
Chair, Durham Landlords Association
With the assistance of members Janice Aviza and Carolyn Ricker

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