A 2008 state Supreme Court decision, City of Morris v. Sax Investments Inc., threw enforcement of local building codes into question if they differed from those contained in the state building code. Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) said that decision has made it harder to allow municipalities to enforce health and safety inspections of rental property.
Signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty May 11, the new law, sponsored by Mahoney and Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), makes an important clarification that while the State Building Code supersedes local ordinances, municipalities can enact and enforce local property maintenance ordinances in order to keep buildings “in a safe and sanitary condition or in good repair.”
However, those local codes may not exceed standards on which the structure was built, remodeled or added to “unless specific retroactive provisions for existing buildings have been adopted as part of the State Building Code.”
Minneapolis Director of Building Inspection Henry Reimer said the change is necessary to maintain livability of many older neighborhoods, especially with the “unprecedented conversions of single family homes to rental” he said is occurring in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.
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