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Take a tour with Grand Haven’s very busy rental housing inspector

Posted at 8:23 AM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 08:50:28-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- It's no secret that people love living along the lakeshore and the next best thing is renting a home for a few days or weeks.

But, for those of us who don't live there, renting a home for days or weeks at a time is the next best thing.

According to Grand Haven's Rental Housing Program, rentals account for more than 15 percent of all residential properties in Grand Haven.  According to rental housing inspector James Sullivan, those rentals are on the rise.

That means more vacationing families and more reasons to keep the city's rental properties inspected.

It's a job Sullivan says has a lot of requirements: testing lights, locks, smoke detectors, windows and doors. Sullivan tells FOX 17 he works part time as a rental housing inspector, 20 hours a week, averaging 11 inspections a day, ensuring properties are up to code.

"If it’s supposed to work, then it needs to work," Sullivan said.

But Sullivan says one requirement always tops the list: compassion.

"You have job to do, but it’s how you do that job," he said. "It’s a good feeling at the end of the day to go home and make sure things are safe and folks got a good place to stay," Sullivan said.

Sullivan has been working in Grand Haven as a rental housing inspector for  two years and says the most common violations he finds are peeling paint, broken windows, missing handrails, and non-functioning smoke detectors. Sullivan gives owners 30-45 days to fix violations. Once they are corrected, Sullivan automatically follows up with another inspection.

Though some repair costs can be steep, Sullivan says the price is worth paying, benefiting landlords, tenants, and neighbors.

"[Rentals] are big money makers for those in the city of Grand Haven right now," Sullivan said. "The purpose of the rental inspections is to ensure the health, safety, welfare of the tenants occupants. But with that, we try to protect the owners involvement and investment in the community."

Others think it's just a job, but for Sullivan it's about making a difference, providing others a safe place to stay, whether that's during a vacation, holiday, or special event. "We think it makes for a better visit for the folks that are here. It gives them nicer places, stable neighborhoods to come back. (Grand Haven is) a very destination-type city," he said.

Sullivan is responsible for inspecting roughly 750 rental properties in Grand Haven, with about 1,657 units. He inspects each property once every three years.

According to Grand Haven's Rental Housing Program, the rental registration fee is $35 per unit. Registration forms must be received by February 15 of each year or a $10 late fee will be applied.

Sullivan tells FOX 17 the rental program is designed to promote maintenance and quality of rental properties along with enhancing and maintaining property value of properties while decreasing the chance of blight.

If you have questions, call Sullivan at: 616-847-3490.

Concept development and additional credit to Entertainment & Media Consultant, Chris Petras