• Posted On: September 26, 2014

College towns are almost always packed with rental houses that students call home during their tenure at the local university. Some landlords are better than others, which mean a percentage of these homes are going to be in worse shape than others. These homes, regardless of how willing a college student might be to live in poor conditions, must be up to code to ensure nobody gets hurt. However, most city and county officials in these college towns are already stretched to a near breaking point. How can they possibly keep up with every rental inspection required to keep the population safe?

The community of West Lafayette, IN, is familiar with the above scenario. Home to Purdue University, the community has an abundance of rental units – around 9,000 in total, most of which are filled with Purdue students. Rental inspection and building code enforcement is focused on those rental properties. A rental inspection has to be completed every two years on every structure. The city uses a resource team to inspect the exterior of the home for broken windows or any other type of obvious disrepair.

Surprisingly, the city only employs two rental inspection officers, two new construction inspectors and a team of five who scan neighborhoods for exterior issues. Most single-family homeowners are never contacted about their property, due mostly to extremely strong neighborhood associations. But equally as surprising is the fact that the community faces few challenges with its rental inspections.

The reason few issues occur is that West Lafayette has enacted strict penalties and swift action against rental property owners who violate any part of the city’s code. This is not the case for every college town that hasn’t enacted the same strict guidelines for rental property owners to follow.

The issue in most of these communities that experience problems is in their workflow process. To run a really tight ship, every rental inspection checklist must be quickly dealt with, which means manual processes cannot be part of the situation where the paperwork is concerned. Any government process is always coupled with a burdensome amount of paperwork. For communities that take the paperwork out of the equation and use more digital, automated processes, they get more value out of every employee on the ground doing inspections.

Too many municipalities and county governments are under-utilizing their employees. They’re making them spend too much time behind the desk, filling out lengthy inspection forms. These forms are then passed on to another employee who has to make sense of them and pass them on to the appropriate person. If only they would utilize hardware and software available today, they could make better use of their time and keep the community safer.

At Comcate, we realized years ago that government could be run more efficiently. We’ve developed a software solution that utilizes handheld devices such as smart phones and tablet computers that take the paper out of the paperwork and inject automation into the workflow. For more information about our solutions, contact us today.

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