Forming a Change

The international property maintenance code hit a lot of resistance when it was brought to Casper’s city council months ago.

It didn’t go very far because many felt it was overbearing and a government overreach, telling people what they could and could not do when it came to their properties.

But city staff say the code is meant to apply to the entire country, even outside of it, and they did not have the chance to tailor it.

They say one of their main points in trying to implement the code is for health and safety, to help people living in poor conditions around our community.

“I don’t think people really understand some of the living conditions even in Casper, Wyoming… I mean you hear about things in big cities… well it happens here too,” said Ruth Heald with the Natrona County Health Dept.

But when renting, the authority for anyone, other than the tenant, to address some of these issues, as far as housing quality, just isn’t there.

Current codes sometimes make it difficult to get owners to cooperate.

“Inside we don’t really have the ability to go in and address some things unless the owner is cooperative and lets us in to look,” said Craig Collins, Casper City Planner.

“We really don’t have an immediate recourse to where we can go and try to get the owner to do that. We always reach out to them and see if they will work with us to do that but we do not have the teeth to make it happen instantly,” said Dan Elston with Casper Building and Inspections.

Elston believes the maintenance code would give them that power.
“It would give us more enforcement capability to where we would be able to expedite it quicker than we can now.”

But Councilman Jesse Morgan felt the code was trying to take on too much.

“It’s not in an ordinance so that’s why I say that we should enact a specific ordinance to help with those tenants that maybe don’t have heating in the winter for example, instead of putting on this huge international property maintenance code that just doesn’t work for Wyoming,” said Jesse Morgan.

Collins says the code is meant to apply to the entire United States, even outside of it.

“But a normal code adoption we always exempt things out of that code and we never got in that process to actually talk about things that didn’t really fit for this community, climate or things like that.”

Collins says people do have legitimate problems with landlords and they’d like to be able to address that.

He also says when owners are uncooperative it could possibly affect future building permit requests.

Elston says they are in the process of reviewing the property maintenance code to be sent back to city council in the future.