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Landlords ask Stewart City Council to relax its rental inspection ordinance

Landlords in Stewart pleaded with the Stewart City Council Sept. 3 to relax its rental inspection ordinance.
The City Council held a public hearing that evening on changes it already is proposing for its ordinance after hearing earlier complaints.
Landlords Keith and Debra Lorensen said they are unhappy with being asked to replace windows that they replaced just three or four years ago.
A requirement of the rental ordinance is that egress windows “must have a minimum net clearing of five square feet” to allow escape in case of an emergency.
Keith Lorensen said the replacement windows the couple put in  their rental property three or four years ago met the requirements of the building code that was in place at that time.
“We pulled a permit and they passed inspection,” said Lorensen. New windows will cost about $350 each, he said, “and that doesn’t include labor.”
Lorensen said the windows don’t meet the required square footage because they are double-hung. He said if they were “broken out” there would be plenty of room for people to make their escape.
But Scott Qualle of MNSPECT, Inc., the city’s building inspection firm, said that young people, the infirm or elderly may not be able to break out the window supports.
The Lorensens also were concerned about a requirement for a back-flow valve on the building’s boiler.
Debra Lorensen said the only person who ever touches the boiler is a licensed repairman.
Qualle said the back flow valve prevents dirty water from being drawn into the city’s water supply during fire suppression operations. He also said another solution is to use a non-direct method of filling of the boiler.

For more, see the Sept. 10 print edition of The Chronicle.