Reoccupancy Permits

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<b>Re-Occupancy Program Expanding to Owner-Occupied Houses
Starting IN JULY OF 2007, if you buy a house or condo in unincorporated St. Louis County, a re-occupancy inspection and permit will be required from the Division of Neighborhood Services before you move in.

Currently, the County’s re-occupancy program covers rental properties (both apartments and single-family rental houses) and owner-occupied single-family houses in a few, select “conservation districts” in unincorporated St. Louis County. The expansion is designed to further safeguard the county’s housing stock, officials say.

“Our expanded inspection program will help keep neighborhoods stable and protect property values for future generations,” observed Joseph A. Hunt, deputy director of Neighborhood Services (Department of Public Works). “St. Louis County has thousands of older homes that haven’t had an inspection of any kind since the day they were built. And some of them didn’t even have one then.”

Hunt’s inspectors will check recently sold or about-to-be sold owner-occupied homes for basic property maintenance items such as plumbing, roofing, gutters and wiring. Defects will have to be repaired before the re-occupancy permit is granted.

The inspection and permit will cost $80 – payable by either the seller or buyer or a representative of either.

More information on the inspection process can be found online on the County’s web site (stlouisco.com). Go to Public Works’ page and click on the “Re-occupancy Permit System” link, and then, at the bottom of the page, click “What Do St. Louis County Inspectors Look For?” Sellers/buyers may also apply for the inspection at this website.

Applications may also be made in person at two locations:
North County Government Center, 21 Village Square (near the intersection of I-270 and Lindbergh). Phone: 314-615-7346.
South County Government Center, 4558 Lemay Ferry Road (just south of I-270). Phone: 314-615-4142.

The expansion will add approximately 94,500 condos, single-family homes and duplexes to the County’s re-occupancy inspection rolls.

Problem Properties Unit Expands

As a rule, property maintenance problems in St. Louis County are fairly routine – a bit of curled off siding here or a patch of knee-grass there. Inspectors from the Department of Public Works’ Division of Neighborhood Services can generally coax a repair out of the homeowner with no more than an on-site visit or an official letter from Clayton. But every neighborhood has its chronic hard-cases – the homes bulging with garbage, the collapsed sheds and porches and the backyards stacked high with rusting cars and rotting tires.

These are the next-door or just-down-the-street eyesores that every homeowner dreads.

But there’s good news on the code enforcement front. Neighborhood Services’ Problem Properties Unit, which was created specifically to tackle these tough nut issues, has recently expanded, and now fields three full-time teams. The two-member groups consist of a police officer and property inspector, and their mission is simple: Do whatever it takes to put a permanent salve on the extra-resilient property maintenance problems that exist in every community.

Two of the teams focus on North County addresses, while the other is based in South County.

Although the teams have the power to arrest property owners or initiate the process by which residents are evicted from their homes, unit members prefer to identify the cause or causes of a particular problem, and marshal the resources necessary to correct them.

Crisis of varying forms can lead homeowners to the extreme end of the property maintenance spectrum, officials say. Mental or physical illness, divorce, death, bankruptcy, poverty, extreme old age, incarceration, and loss of employment can all conspire to produce a problem property. However, for the citizens struggling with these dilemmas, responding to a code violation notice simply isn’t a priority. In some, if not many, instances, their life circumstances have overwhelmed them.

Problem Property officials organize volunteer help to get junk cleared out of homes or yards, provide donated items, rally family members and provide any other support and encouragement available to get a “problem property” owner back into the good graces of the property maintenance code and his or her neighbors.

“They truly are agents of change,” noted Joseph A. Hunt, deputy director of Neighborhood Services.

The Problem Properties Unit is designed as a resource for elected officials, neighborhood leaders, police officers, inspectors and others charged with special responsibility for the quality of life in our neighborhoods. As such, they do not take complaints directly from citizens. The Unit works primarily in Unincorporated St. Louis County, but also performs contract work for several municipalities.