Right now, Sandy Springs is facing major challenges regarding the lack of attention management puts towards maintenance requests made in some apartment complexes.
Everyone deserves to live in a place where they feel safe and secure, and that is why during its work session this week, the Sandy Springs City Council reviewed how the city’s current code enforcement process works and proposed changes to ensure that our apartments provide healthy living environments for Sandy Springs residents.
The presentation indicated there are 96 apartment complexes within the City of Sandy Springs. Annually, the city’s Code Enforcement group identifies 11-12 complexes to inspect: checking the common areas, exterior structures, and accessory structures for property maintenance or development code violations.
Properties that receive the most complaints are prioritized on the inspection list. However, the program cycle to inspect all 96 complexes takes 7-9 years.
Furthermore, the Fire Marshal’s Office inspects all 96 of the City’s apartment complexes for compliance with fire safety and suppression codes in the common areas. Approximately 20% of the interiors are inspected by a third-party company, and the reports are reviewed by the Fire Marshal’s Office for compliance.
To address the rising concerns for apartment residents, Code Enforcement is proposing that the City expand inspection services by creating a specialized Apartment Inspection Unit within Code Enforcement to inspect all 96 apartment complexes annually. The proposal outlines these key improvements:
• Partner with the Fire Marshal’s Office to conduct coordinated inspections
• Establish regular outreach programs to apartment complex management
• Enhance education programs targeted for apartment residents
• Require 100% of units to be inspected by a third-party annually
• Require mechanical, electrical, and plumbing inspections every five years by licensed individuals
• Require that Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC system inspections be conducted by licensed individuals
District 2 City Council Representative Dr. Melody Kelley cited the benefits a separate apartment inspection division would bring, “For residents, this means a nearly seven-fold increase in the frequency of code inspections from CoSS and a five-fold increase in 3rd party inspections.”
Unfortunately, uninhabitable living conditions in apartment communities is not a new issue.
In a yearlong investigation conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, findings from crime & code-inspection reports, lawsuits and public records across more than 1,000 apartment complexes in the Atlanta area revealed, “A potent mix of lax security, deferred maintenance, governmental inertia and Georgia’s weak tenant-protection laws has rendered much of the region’s affordable housing barely habitable,” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2022).
- Read More: Dangerous Dwellings
As referenced in the article above, at least three-fourths of the region’s most dangerous apartments belong to private equity firms or other absentee investors under whom crime and squalor are not so much bad fortune as collateral damage from a widely followed business model.
Tenants can and have reported code violations, however, current Georgia laws offer them little protection and recourse.
While there is much work to be done, it’s good to see our Sandy Springs city leadership considering strengthening code enforcement within our city to avoid or reveal and correct the unsafe or unhealthy living conditions found in some current apartment complexes. The public will have plenty of opportunities to comment on the proposal to protect our neighbors living in our apartment communities, so be on the lookout for future information on when and where you can provide public input on this important topic. You can review the entire presentation and discussion on the city’s public meetings portal, with the code enforcement discussion beginning at the 1 hour, 42 minute mark.