Rundown Dumfries apartments would be closely inspected beginning next month under a minimum housing standard ordinance expected to be approved by the Town Council June 1.
Dumfries Zoning Administrator Albert Bishton said he is awaiting council action before beginning inspections of 30 apartments buildings that absentee landlords have allowed to deteriorate.
"I'm talking about holes in the floors, windows without screens, cracked ceilings, cockroaches everywhere," Bishton said. "I've been real concerned about these apartments, but we've just been going along with it because we have been afraid of infringing on people's rights. With this ordinance, I can recruit some of the county officials to help me."
Under the proposed ordinance, town officials would be empowered to order homeowners and landlords to correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
"If the county health director and fire marshal and myself feel that minimum housing standards are not being met, we can tell the landlord to improve them or find another place to rent," Bishton said. "In Dumfries, only about 1 percent of the housing is unsafe or unsanitary."
The housing ordinance under consideration also would encourage landlords or tenants to have town officials to inspect property if they believe a rental unit is unsafe or unsanitary, Bishton said.