How many people can I rent to?
The answer depends on the zoning and specifications of your property.
The R-1 Residential District allows rentals to one person or a family. Other zoning districts allow for up to four unrelated persons to live in one unit. Additionally, Big Rapids has several properties that are “non-conforming” because they allow for occupancies that would otherwise be prohibited due to the history of the property. Further, a property must meet other Zoning regulations such as number of bedrooms, square footage per dwelling unit, and parking requirements to rent to up to four unrelated persons.
For questions regarding the status of a particular property, please contact the Community Development Department at 231-592-4035. We would be happy to assist you with questions regarding the zoning and specifications of a property prior to purchase or rental.
Is my property required to be enrolled in the Rental Inspection Program?
All properties that are occupied by someone other than the owner and their immediate family must be enrolled in the Rental Inspection Program. If you live in the property you own with your immediate family (parents, grandparents, or children) the property is not considered a rental by City Ordinance. If you lease, let, rent, or otherwise allow one or more persons who are not immediate family or on the deed to the property live there, your property must be enrolled in the Rental Inspection Program. Whether or not a payment is received has no bearing on the property’s status as a rental. For example, If you purchase a home for your child to live in while they attend Ferris State University and the child is not on the deed, the property would be considered a rental because the property is occupied by someone other than the legal owner.
As a property owner, am I required to attend the inspection?
Not necessarily. If you live more than 10 miles beyond the City limits, the Ordinance does require that you designate a local responsible party. This person can be a tenant, friend, property manager, maintenance, or other local person that can attend inspections and handle property issues when requested. If you have a responsible party designated, you do not need to attend the inspection and may request a copy of the inspection report when the inspection has been completed. If you would like to attend the inspection regardless, the inspector appreciates having landlords who are actively involved in the operation of their property.
What is the Inspector looking for?
Your property will be inspected for compliance with the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) and applicable City Ordinances.
The IPMC essentially seeks to ensure that your property is in a livable condition and the systems (plumbing, electrical, structural, etc.) are in working order.
Big Rapids City Ordinances enhance fire protection and seek to ensure your smoke detectors are in place and less than 10 years old. A fire extinguisher must also be in the kitchen and within 12 years of it’s manufacture date. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also inspected, but are only required in rooms with fuel burning appliances such as boilers, water heaters, ranges, furnaces, etc.
How long is my Rental Certificate good for?
Rental certificates are valid for one year. The Community Development Department schedules rental properties in quarterly groups and your certificate will expire at the end of that group to ensure no certificates lapse while waiting for an inspection.
What is the cost of a rental inspection?
Rental inspection fees are $40 for the first unit and $30 for each additional unit.
If the Property Owner or Agent fails to attend a scheduled inspection without prior notification, a $25 No Show Fee is charged.
If you need to reschedule a rental inspection, please contact Emily in the Community Development Department at 231-592-4036 as soon as possible.
How do I enroll in the Rental Inspection Program and schedule an inspection?
You can enroll by contacting Emily Szymanski at (231)592-4036 then completing the Enrollment Form she will provide you with.
What if I own my home and have roommate?
Your property is still considered a rental, in part. During the inspection, the inspector will not enter areas that are used by only the homeowner. The inspector will still inspect all common areas, bedrooms, and appliances that service your roommates or tenants.
What happens if the Inspector finds violations during the inspection?
The Inspector will seek a remedy to the violation in a way that is reasonable for the type of violation discovered. Safety violations, such as missing smoke detectors, will need to be corrected within 24 hours. Complex violations that require more time will be discussed and a timeline for corrections will be set. Should issues remain uncorrected, the Inspector will issue a correction notice with a date and time to have the violation corrected. Failure to correct violations can result in a civil infraction ticket and subsequent appearance in court.
Violations were found during the inspection that the landlord was unaware of, who is responsible?
Damages caused by a tenant turn into a civil issue between the tenant and the landlord. The Inspector will still require the violation to be corrected in a timely manner, whether that be by the landlord repairing it and charging the tenant or the tenant having the violation corrected themselves. Damages caused by general wear and tear are typically not the responsibility of the tenant. For recovering damage expenses, you may want to consult your lease agreement or speak with an attorney.
Where are carbon monoxide detectors required?
Carbon monoxide detectors are required in all rooms with fuel burning appliances. Generally, these detectors should be located in the room with the fuel burning appliance. If the appliances are installed in an area that does not allow for this, let the Inspector know. The Inspector can assist you with an appropriate location for the detectors by referencing the IPMC and manufacturers instructions for your specific carbon monoxide detector.
Where are smoke detectors required?
- Every bedroom
- All rooms other than bedrooms used for sleeping (these rooms must still have means of egress)
- Outside of each bedroom or group of bedrooms
- One on each floor, including basements. Crawlspaces or cellars that are not a full story are not required to have smoke detectors in place.
- Attics, if they are used as a living space.
Can I use a basement as an additional bedroom?
Basement rooms are typically not constructed to be used as bedrooms. There are certain requirements for a basement bedroom including natural light, natural ventilation, ceiling height, separation from utilities, and means of egress. If you have questions about using a basement room as a bedroom, let the Inspector know.
Do I have to notify my tenants before I enter the property?
Generally, yes. While there is no specific legislation that governs entry of the property, tenants are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of the leased premises and may exhibit a reasonable expectation of privacy. Landlords are encouraged provide a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to entry of the leased property. Landlords may enter the property without notice for a legitimate emergency that jeopardizes life or property, such as a large leak, fire, non-functional furnace, etc. Additionally, landlords may enter the property with short or no notice if the tenant freely allows the landlord to do so.