A proposal to add a new inspection program and registration fee for landlords to ensure that all multi-family buildings in Biddeford are safe and up to code will go before the Biddeford City Council on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — On Dec. 10, the Biddeford Policy Committee approved adding a new inspection program and registration fee for landlords to ensure that all multi-family buildings in Biddeford are safe and up to code. The proposal will go before Biddeford City Council on Tuesday; the council has the final vote on whether to implement the program.

If passed, the ordinance would require owners of multi-family dwellings to register their properties and pay $25 per dwelling unit each year, Director of Codes Enforcement Roby Fecteau said. The fees will will pay for inspections of the properties, to take place every five years.
Last year, the city budgeted $62,000 for fiscal year 2017-2018 for a multi-family inspection program. By adding a registration fee, the program is expected to earn an estimated $62,500 annually, which should make the program self-sufficient.
When surveying the buildings, code enforcement officers will ensure that units are on par with the International Property Maintenance Code, which sets the standard for a healthy living environment. Violations could include instances of defunct or outdated smoke alarms and sprinklers, whether there is lead paint, presence of bed bugs or other pests and improper ventilation and more.
Prior to an inspection, owners will receive a two-week notice and will need to grant full access to the building, including basements and common areas. New construction properties will be given a 10-year allowance prior to needing an inspection through the city.
In addition to registration fees, the proposal also includes fines for those who fail to comply. For failing to register a property, the fee will be $250. For those who refuse entry into the building the fee is $1,000. A fee for failure to update contact information will be $250, and for those who provide false information the fee is $1,000.
Originally, fines were to accrue each calendar day after the infraction occurred.
However, Ward 6 Councilor Norm Belanger suggested that fines accrue only once for the first 10 days, and then continue to accrue daily after.
“Two hundred and fifty dollars a day is a lot of money. What if someone has a heart attack, misses the inspection, and can’t get in touch with us for three days? Not saying that your office would do this, Roby, but he could be faced with a fee of $750,” Belanger said.
Whomever gets the tax bill for the building, will get the invoice for the fees, Fecteau said.
Inspectors  has been into 637 multi-family buildings in Biddeford, he said, with 40 building owners refusing entry into their buildings.
Fnes probably won’t affect buildings they’ve already seen, who were immediately compliant, Fecteau said, rather they will more likely apply to those who are refusing entry.
Inspections will take place in three phases starting with older buildings and finishing with newer properties. The landlords have been sent a list of what is needed to pass inspection, and so far the results have been good, he said.
“This helps the city assemble the big picture, so we’re getting a pretty good database for buildings in the city,” Fecteau said.
— Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected]. Associate Editor Dina Mendros contributed to this report.

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