Lincoln offering landlords free inspections to prep for new state codes

Posted Dec. 27, 2011, at 8:37 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Code Enforcement Officer Daniel Whittier wants to help landlords comply with the state’s new Uniform Building and Energy Code before he has to start enforcing it, he said Tuesday.

Whittier and firefighters have begun inspecting rental dwellings as part of a voluntary town inspection program that will help landlords prepare for the new regulations, which will take effect in Lincoln on July 1, he said.

“It is geared to be just a courtesy,” Whittier said of the voluntary program. “We have no desire to tell people how to live.”

LD 2257, which the Legislature enacted a few years ago with delayed implementation, was designed to streamline code administration, to bring more consistency to builders, developers and towns, and to improve energy conservation in housing stock, state officials have said.

Under the law, communities with more than 2,000 residents that have a building code had to start enforcing the new state code on Dec. 1. The state building code requires builders to hire certified third-party inspectors to conduct inspections unless a municipality voluntarily has chosen to have a certified municipal building inspector do the work, officials have said.

Smaller communities with fewer than 2,000 residents that don’t have a building code have until July 1, 2012, to enforce the code. Though it has about 5,000 residents, Lincoln received an exemption from the Dec. 1 deadline, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

As part of the voluntary inspection program, Whittier and firefighters tour apartments and other multiunit housing developments for free in search of areas not in compliance with the new regulations. Verbally and in a report he provides later, Whittier tells homeowners what they must do to comply with the regulations and other improvements they might wish to make, he said.

Firefighters offer advice to landlords on how to comply with the new law, such as carbon monoxide detector locations. They also examine building egress points and familiarize themselves with building layouts, hydrant placements and other details that would be useful to them when emergencies occur, Fire Chief Phil Dawson said.

The inspections carry no enforcement power under the law but would be part of a database town and fire officials will use, Whittier said.

Whittier has volunteered to inspect two large apartment buildings, Bailey Circle Apartments and Lincoln Manor, and gotten a good reception. He is completing reports on his inspections now and hopes that landlords who want to learn more about the new code will contact him at 794-3372.

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