If municipalities are serious about addressing health, safety and building code violations, they should develop solutions that address the issue holistically. Rather than the ineffective patchwork approach of requiring one home owner to repair a leaky sewer pipe or cracked sidewalk at the point-of-sale, municipalities should focus their efforts on community-wide programs that take advantage of economies of scale throughout the year. These programs should include:
1) Public Alerts
A public education component that alerts home owners to serious issues of concern in the community.
2) Potential Insurance Coverage for Repairs
Research into potential insurance policies that could cover a substantial portion of repairs for expensive items such as cracked or broken sewer lateral lines.
3) At Large Repairs at a Discounted Rate
An agreement with local contractors – through a competitive bidding process – to complete large repairs at a discounted rate. Repairs of individual sections of sidewalk, curbs, sewer lateral lines, and other substantial problems can be extremely costly. These types of “one-off” repairs also make no sense, because they result in a patchwork of repairs throughout the community. One neighbor’s sidewalks are pristine, while the section next door has disintegrated into rubble.
4) Low-Interest Loans for Repair Work
An agreement with local banks to provide low-interest loans for repair work. County, state and federal funding can also be sought to help with needed infrastructure repairs, such a streets and sewer lines.
While this type of effort may not seem as expedient and palatable as the band-aid approach of point-of-sale inspections, it is the only way to legitimately address the serious budget, health and environmental issues that can be caused by ongoing property maintenance code violations.