An inspection program for rental properties in Alexander City is going well six months after its implementation.

With a few bumps along the way, the Lake Martin Landlord Association invited city officials and inspectors to attend a friendly meeting last week to talk. Association president Tony Goss said the meeting went better than he could ever hope for.

“It was the most positive meeting we have ever had,” Goss said. “We had more landlords at the meeting than ever before.”

Alexander City Mayor Tommy Spraggins was one city official in attendance at the meeting and he couldn’t agree more about the attitude Thursday.

“We were extremely pleased to receive an invitation to the meeting and to have open, honest communication with Alexander City landlords,” Spraggins said in a release. “The rental ordinance was somewhat controversial from first discussions through implementation, but I feel there have been many positive results and (this) meeting and the positivity from our landlords serves to confirm this to be true.”

Goss said the landlords benefited greatly learning what inspectors noticed in the first six months since the ordinance was implemented. Goss said the inspectors mainly look at life-safety issues. 

“(We need to look at things) like a lever on the inside of deadbolt instead of a key,” Goss said. “Making sure a smoke detectors were in the hallways of homes in addition to the sleeping areas. We learned they look for carbon monoxide detectors. They are needed regardless of gas heat or not. Rails going up stairs and height requirements for landings that need rails and cracked window panes. The minimum distance for ground fault plugs near sinks and other water sources. It is all basic life safety issues.” 

Goss said the learning what inspectors like Jan Jones and Trey Kendrick, who attended the meeting as well, are looking for helps the landlords streamline the inspection process.

“We were already doing most of those things but it was great to hear of other things too that way we can fix the issue before the inspection,” Goss said. “We now know what they are looking for and can speed up the process.”

Spraggins is pleased with how fast inspections have gone so far.

“We have 3,400 rental properties in Alexander City,” Spraggins said. “About 300 inspections have been done already; that’s about 10% in six months. I would say that is pretty good.”

Dr. Eric Tyler chaired the rental housing committee that developed the inspection ordinance. Spraggins said Tyler is already seeing the positive effects of the program at his pediatric doctor’s office seeing housing-related illnesses in children decrease.

“(Tyler) said he had not seen a single new case due to mold and dampness in housing in the last three months,” Spraggins said. “That is exactly the type of progress I had hoped to see. Improving the health of our children, who are our future, is a success we can all be proud of.”

Goss said the landlord association saw another positive come from the meeting.

“We are partnering with the (Alexander City) Fire Department to get reflective signs at all of the rental properties,” Goss said. “We want one at each because it helps with the safety of our tenants.”

The landlord association is also partnering with another city department to help both the city and property owners.

“We are also partnering with the sewer department on the grease program,” Goss said. “The immediate goal is to educate tenants on the negative effects of grease in the sewer system. It helps everyone.”

Goss said the landlords are passing out literature as they collect rent and when new tenants sign leases. He said part of the education program informs tenants jugs to collect grease are at public works and at city hall. But the partnership doesn’t stop there.

“We want tenants to see a collaborative effort amongst everyone to help reduce grease,” Goss said. “We hope to go on ‘The Front Porch’ too. I’m so excited to partner with the city on things.”

Spraggins said he is appreciative of the invitation from Goss and Harold Cochran to invite city leaders and relevant staff to the meeting.

“We are employees of the citizens of Alexander City,” Spraggins said. “We appreciate the opportunity to meet and discuss programs and issues with all interested parties.”

Building official Eddie Patterson and community development director Al Jones also represented the city in the meeting.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.