RUCO Laws – Are They Still in Effect?

RUCO Laws - Are They Still in Effect?

In June, the NC General Assembly voted to amend the state RUCO laws (Rental Unit Certificate of Occupation). Until June, the law had been that, before a property could be rented out, it had to be checked by a RUCO inspector and was not deemed marketable without a RUCO certificate of occupancy.

The question is whether or not that law is now dead. The June amendment has been interpreted as an abolishment. But was it?

The section of state law that was amended pertained to building inspections in cities and counties and stated that these inspections can no longer be made without “reasonable cause.” The Greensboro ordinance, however, was enacted under a separate statutory section dealing with minimum housing standards.

So now, lawyers are arguing: what is still in effect, what is enforceable, does the law still exist and how many ways can this be interpreted.

For example, Paul Meyer, chief legislative counsel for the NC League of Municipalities, indicates that “cities might want to explore with their attorneys whether rental inspection programs established on the authority of a part of state law pertaining to minimum housing standards, as opposed to a separate part about building inspections, remain viable.”

Some argue that the amendment is clear that inspections cannot happen without “reasonable cause.”

One indication that our local officials think RUCO is inactive is that they are discussing dismantling the RUCO Advisory Board.

Nevertheless, landlords, with or without RUCO inspections, your properties need to maintain livable standards and, if there is a problem with your property, correct it even if no government official is going to show up at your door. Problem properties lead to more legislation, not to mention danger to tenants. The state’s minimum housing standards remain firmly in place.

Ralph Peeples, law professor at Wake Forest University stated that, “based on my reading of that amendment, Greensboro’s RUCO ordinance is still enforceable.” Reaction from our legislators seems to be mixed – some are in favor of continuing with RUCO, some see it as unnecessary over-regulation in an area that is functioning well on its own.

Bottom line, it appears no more will be actively pursued on the ordinance at this time and we won’t know clearly how the amended law reads until it is challenged in court.

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