Rental inspection programs might not bring in revenue for your municipality, but they do serve an even more important purpose in your community — saving lives. In fact, we’ve helped several municipalities across the U.S. implement rental inspection programs — many of which would have faced disastrous events had they not introduced their program.

So let’s explore why these programs are so advantageous (and what you need to know before you implement one). 

What is a rental inspection program?

A rental inspection program helps cities and municipalities ensure that rental housing is safe and maintained to local standards and regulations. Through these government programs, rental units must undergo mandatory inspections to ensure living conditions are safe and habitable. Any issues that are identified during an inspection must be resolved in a certain period of time, after which a follow-up inspection will take place.

Reactive vs. proactive rental inspections

Rental inspection programs are proactive in nature, which differs from many rental housing code enforcement practices (which are activated by resident complaints). For example, instead of allowing an electrical problem to persist until a resident files a complaint or a fire breaks out, an inspection program creates an opportunity for an expert inspector to catch the problem before it leads to damage or injury.

About 90% of the inspection programs SAFEbuilt helps run proactively address issues before they become bigger problems; the other 10% is reacting to issues that have progressed, often involving code enforcement.

What is the benefit of a rental inspection program?

Rental inspection programs offer a wide range of benefits.

For your residents, an inspection program:

  • Helps create safer living spaces (and improve community health)
  • Creates a proactive approach to community improvement
  • Improves housing stock within the community
  • Makes your community more desirable to live and work in
  • Can reduce strain between landlords and tenants 

Houses with mountains in background in community with rental inspection program

For your municipality, a rental inspection program also protects you from possible liabilities. For example, a resident might file a complaint about their rental’s living conditions. If your municipality does not investigate the complaint in a timely manner, any injuries or incidents that occur could fall on your municipality. With a formal inspection program in place, complaints are less likely, and they provide a clear process to follow should a resident submit a concern.

What is included on a rental inspection checklist?

Not sure what all goes into a rental inspection? Check out what other communities (including Lynn, MA; Bronson, MI; and Glencoe, MN) have used to help maintain the safety of their residents.


Is the program right for your community?

Most municipalities we work with to create a rental inspection program are facing:

  • Complaints from residents regarding too many living in a rental property
  • Complaints regarding safety issues in a rental property (e.g., fire hazards, etc.)
  • A decline in market values due to improperly maintained rental properties 
  • A decline in ISO rates
  • An increase in crime
  • An overworked building and housing department team

Rental inspection programs quickly become full-time jobs 

The truth of the matter is that the time spent completing rental inspections and code enforcement is often less than the administrative required to perform them. In fact, a lot of time invested in rental inspection programs is spent:

  • Sending mailers to residents
  • Fielding and documenting complaints
  • Communicating across departments
  • Following through on recorded violations to ensure they are corrected 

And then there is the competition and documentation of the actual inspection (including hiring, training, and fully equipping inspectors to follow a regimented process).

In the past, SAFEbuilt has had up to six team members working on a rental inspection program in just one community. With rental inspection administrative work being time-intensive, it can often be too much to ask of your current team to manage — especially when your community’s safety hangs in the balance.

Hiring inspectors vs. specialized rental inspectors

While you might consider hiring your own inspectors to complete inspections for your program, what often gets missed is the specific training and quality assurance audits that someone who specializes in rental inspections has under their belt. When you work with SAFEbuilt, we can manage every aspect of your program and help ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

Get up and running in as little as 30–60 days

At SAFEbuilt, we can handle everything from setting up your program to implementing ordinances and deploying inspectors to complete the work. With our expertise, tools, and staff, we’ll manage every aspect of your program so that you can keep your team focused on what they do best. And depending on your community’s infrastructure, we can have your program up and running in as little as one to two months. 

Track inspections in live time

Our CommunityCore software allows you to track every inspection’s status, from the initial scheduling to any follow-up visits that are required. Not only does this simplify tracking the progress of inspections, but it allows inspectors to record their findings in the field (so that you can see the immediate results of each inspection). 

Already have an inspection program?

Maybe your municipality already has an inspection program, but you’re struggling to keep up with the administrative duties or find qualified inspectors to complete the work. SAFEbuilt can seamlessly transition into your existing program to take the weight off your staff and help get your program running efficiently and smoothly.

Ready to learn more?

Working Together to Build Safer Communities