RUCO vs. House Bill 554

RUCO vs. House Bill 554

RUCO – Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy – Since January 1, 2009, a certificate of inspection that is required on all rental properties here in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Housing features covered by RUCO include:

  • Premises – The housing premises must be structurally sound and must be waterproof and weatherproof.
  • Equipment and furnishings – Occupants must have adequate heating facilities, potable water, sanitary facilities, and adequate space for sleeping.
  • Sanitation – All rooms used by the occupants must be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.

New legislation and budget challenges may eliminate mandatory certification this year.

Does every rental property need to be RUCO inspected and certified?

A report in the Sunday, May 8, 2011, Greensboro News and Record sums up a major concern about sub-standard housing this way:  “Health care for NC children hurt by living in substandard housing costs well over $100 million per year.”

Dr. David Chenoweth sites asthma attacks triggered by pests and moldy conditions, falls that result from broken steps or unsafe conditions, burns from electrical and combustion hazard, leanrning disorders from lead poisoning, cancers and neuro-behavioral disorders from toxins in homes.  All of these, it is believed, can be controlled or eliminated by routine housing inspections.  The goal is to prevent problems before they are visibly noticeable or lead to complaints.

At this time, RUCO inspections are required on all Greensboro rental units before they can be rented.  Not getting an inspection carries a fine of $250 and an order to repair any violations within 45 days.  Once certified, re-inspections occur only if there is a complaint or by random sample selection.

House Bill 554 changes the law to requiring inspections by the city only if there is “reasonable cause to believe that unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous or unlawful conditions may exist”.  Most inspections would then be done because of complaints, history of non-compliance or location in an officially designated “blighted” area.

The government will take the RUCO requirements that now exist and change them from being mandatory for all rentals to required only on problem properties.

Brilliant, I say.  From the beginning, RUCO seemed another example of over-regulation.  The city has never had enough inspectors and implementing inspections of all rental properties is very costly to our local government. All of this is done with tax dollars that could well be spent elsewhere.

We have a lot of rentals in Greensboro.  After several inspections, one of the RUCO inspectors said to us basically, “I see what you have, I see how you keep your properties, we really shouldn’t need to inspect any more of yours.”  We agree!  All of our properties are very good homes in very good neighborhoods and we keep them in excellent shape.

I am greatly in favor or House Bill 554. Legislate inspection standards for problem properties or landlords.  Every landlord and every rental property does not need to be individually managed.

What do you think?  There is great interest in defeating House Bill 554.  Let your legislators know how you feel.  Click on: North Carolina General Assembly website to tell your legislators to vote for House Bill 554!  Save tax dollars!

This post has 6 Comments | Would you like to leave a comment?


  1. Thanks, John. Your comment prompted more research by me and a new post regarding RUCO laws that will publish 12/15/11.

  2. Government subsidized units – ( public housing ) was not even subject to the inspections, but like Fred I bet most would not pass.

  3. Concerned:

    Thank you for stating your position. I hate that you had to sign it anonymous and use that for your email.

    My point with this is, once again we, as law abiding citizens, are being over-regulated. It wastes time and tax payers money, which includes yours. There is already enough legislation to prevent what you’re describing as poor landlord behavior. These laws are ineffective because they are not enforced. RUCO has the same issue as the other laws – bad landlords don’t comply. You get called to inspect our homes because we are law abiding and our houses are in kept in perfect shape. The “slum lords” don’t call you to inspect because their houses are disastrous.

    I talked with a Realtor the other day who knew of a tenant living in sub standard housing. I told her to have the lady call RUCO. She said she already tried to get the lady to call the city but she refused. I told the Realtor to call RUCO. She declined. So, again, more legislation does not help those that the existing laws aren’t helping anyway.

  4. I am against this bill because I am a housing inspector. It affects more than just your area but the state of NC. We have numerous homes that are not in compliance & every day a life is lost due to homes not being safe. SAFTEY is the main concern always. These inspectors have families too. The country is already in a recession, but letting go hundreds of inspectors is crazy. Alot of renters are too scared to call & let someone know the home is unsafe. People are living paycheck to paycheck. All of us don’t have the means to own properties to make a living or have that financial security that others have. When lives are lost due to unsafe homes…will u still be for House Bill 554?

  5. Wow, Fred. Well said. There are more than enough laws on the books, they just need to be enforced where needed. Over-regulating those of us who play by the rules just discourages free enterprise and, ultimately, hurts the economy and all of us.

    Thanks for your comment.

  6. I bet if we inspected all of the government subsidized housing that is where we would find the most violations. The government is the biggest “slum lord” in the marketplace. Think down town section 8 properties. Think inner city properties, think government subsidized anything.

    While it is true that a few investors have rental properties that are not safe, the overwhelming evidence is that the government needs a watch dog. Instead, what we end up with is the “consumer protection” folks who are pros at finding ways to reduce the value of privately owned property via “do good” regulations.

    Name me one real estate law that could not be passed in the name of “consumer protection?” Therefore, name me one law that could not be passed in the name of consumer protection where the actual outcome is not an erosion of private property rights?

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