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Healthy Kids: Unhealthy housing can cause issues for kids and adults
EUGENE, Ore. -- This time of year, when it’s raining and the temperatures drop, the City of Eugene begins to see an uptick in the number of calls from renters with issues related to heating, weatherproofing and other concerns.
Dr. Pilar Bradshaw with Eugene Pediatric Associates says it’s important to address any issues immediately, especially if they cause safety concerns, including air contaminants like mold.
“The result of that on a child’s health, and for adults, can be chronic allergy and asthma symptoms, which include runny, itchy eyes, runny nose, chronic sinus infections and chronic coughs,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “But there are also a number of health and safety issues that can come from electrical, plumbing, heating and other issues.”
If habitability and safety issues arise that renters and landlords can’t solve on their own, the City of Eugene’s Rental Housing Code program can help.
“The code is designed in a way that promotes tenant communication with the owner or the manager,” says Mark Tritt, City of Eugene Lead Code Compliance Inspector.
The health and safety of his tenants are two important issues for Jim Straub, the owner of Acorn Property Management. As a third-generation landlord, Jim says he takes pride in making sure that each one of the 650 rental properties he manages locally is in good shape and meeting the standards of Eugene’s Rental Housing Code.
“So before I even turn over a prospective property to a tenant, myself or my staff members have an inspection that we do of the property, making sure everything is functioning as it is intended to,” Jim says.
However, Jim knows that through the wear and tear of daily life, and with the changing seasons, issues can arise.
What is covered by the Eugene Renal Housing Code?
Established in 2005, the Eugene Rental Housing Code program addresses 10 specific areas:
• Structural integrity
• Smoke detection
• Carbon monoxide alarms
Mold is addressed through the weatherproofing and plumbing standards.
The program is easy to access and available to tenants living in the approximately 39,000 rental units within Eugene’s city limits.
Over the last year, the city has received several hundred calls from renters, but through the program, most of those issues were resolved before a formal complaint was filed.
“And that’s our goal. If landlords and tenants can work things out, without the need for the City, that’s what we’re hoping for,” says Mark.
Accessing the program
The Eugene Rental Housing Code program is free for renters to use. It’s supported by a $10 per unit annual fee paid for by property owners.
For more information, head to eugenerentalcode.org. Or call (541) 682-8282.