Waynesboro residents call for rental inspections to protect tenants
The Waynesboro chapter of Virginia Organizing delivered a petition to the city council on Monday, calling for the creation of a rental inspection program. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
The petition calls on the council to create an inspection program that would hold landlords accountable to provide safe housing for their tenants. Chapter members canvassed the city and circulated the petition online, gathering more than 375 signatures.
Several residents spoke with organizers about pervasive mold at their rentals – a problem that tenants and a legal aid attorney cited to WMRA last year.
Chapter Member Nora Scott spoke with us again about the petition.
NORA SCOTT: One of the things I came across multiple times in the apartments that I lived in were poor sealing of windows, of flooring. … Recurring mold in the bathroom and also in windows that not only affected the respiratory systems of myself and my roommates, but also their pets.
The petition also references the city's own most recent comprehensive plan, from 2018. Sectors of the city dubbed "opportunity neighborhoods" are described as attracting absentee landlords.
City staff wrote in the plan about a pattern of "slum dwellings acquired by toxic investors" that a lack of oversight had allowed to develop.
SCOTT: We're trying to push for a proactive rental inspection program … and when I say proactive, I mean that instead of the tenants themselves having to file complaints … the landlords themselves would have to, either on a two-year or three-year basis … pass an inspection.
Scott explained that by making these inspections routine, it removes the possibility that tenants who file complaints would be retaliated against.