Alachua County will move forward with a rental permit program after a 4-1 vote on Tuesday that will require inspections of units for maintenance issues and establish energy efficiency standards.
The City of Gainesville has already initiated a similar program. The county modified the program and implementation for its uses.
Instead of hiring a third party, Missy Daniels, acting assistant county manager, told the commissioners that the county will hire in-house inspectors.
“We also have to hire staff which we’re hoping we can do fairly quickly,” Daniels said. “It’s already part of the budget moving forward.”
Like Gainesville, the permits apply to condominiums, co-ops, timeshares, quadruplexes, triplexes, duplexes, or single-family dwellings that are rented in whole or part. Apartment complexes aren’t included.
Landlords will need to register with the county between Jan. 1, 2023, and Sept. 30, 2023. Come next October, the county will start sending inspectors to verify that properties are used as rentals and start inspections.
Landlords will pay a $122 fee for the inspection and permit. Daniels said the fee might change depending on how many landlords the county has and the salary of the inspectors.
During the Gainesville rollout, city officials found that only half of the properties listed as rentals were actually being rented by the owner, reducing the number of permits needed. Daniels said if the numbers follow suit in the county, staff may return to change the fee. She said the county could also elect to cover part of the program through other funding instead of relying entirely on the fee.
Staff currently estimates 11,243 qualifying rental units reside in unincorporated Alachua County—spread across 10,189 properties with 8,574 owners.
Until October 2026, the inspectors will only check for maintenance issues as adopted in the county’s code, but then energy efficiency guidelines will come into play.
The commissioners considered implementing the energy standards in two steps. The county would implement a lower rating of insulation by 2024 before the R-30 requirement hits in 2026. But the commissioners decided to simply have one start date for the entire range.
Partial county maintenance list:
- Foundation should be free of cracks and supporting the structure
- Structure should not have deterioration
- Free of insect and rodent infestation
- Exterior walls should be free of holes, cracks, rotting material
- Paint should not be peeling, flaking or chipped
- Exterior and interior stairs, porches, guard rails should be free of damage and secure
- Windows easily opened and capable of being held in position
- Exterior doors have working locks that secure the doors
- Windows have screens
- Bathroom in every dwelling unit
- Plumbing in good working order
Landlords spoke out against the program at a previous county meeting, but the public on Tuesday spoke both for and against it.
Commissioner Raemi Eagle-Glenn, the lone dissent, wanted to explain her vote. She said staff already faces shortages without trying to hire inspectors for a new program, especially given the need to be fiscally conservative this year.
She also commented on a misconception about landlords. She said landlords are working-class people trying to pay their own taxes and mortgages.
“They’re not really these gilded-age barons that are reaping all these profits,” Eagle-Glenn said.
She likened the project to babysitting and said the “path of least resistance” would be to use services already in place to educate on tenant rights and options. Promoting or expanding these programs would be more prudent during budget constraints, Eagle-Glenn said.
The following are some of the energy efficiency standards required by October 2026:
- All faucets must have aerators with a 2.2 gallon per minute (gal/min) flow rate or less, as evidenced by documentation maintained by the owner.
- All toilets must be 1.6 gallons per flush or less.
- Water heater(s) have a visible and properly functioning Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve (TPRV).
- Water heater pipes insulated for the first 3 feet from the unit (except gas units) with appropriate commercially available insulation.
- All visible exterior water lines not in the enclosed space must be insulated with appropriate commercially available insulation.
- Fireplace chimneys have working dampers, doors, or closures.
- Plumbing system is free of leaks.
- All showerheads must be 2.2 gal/min flow rate or less, as evidenced by imprinting on the showerhead or documentation maintained by the owner.