"Our objective is not to run someone out of their home," he said.
Howerton presented his proposal to adopt the code with local amendments, including the establishment of a board of appeals. In implementing that code, Howerton recommended continued monitoring of deteriorated residences, the establishment of an occupancy certification process for one- and two-family rental properties, and a permitting process for multifamily rental properties, motels and hotels.
He also shared suggestions about the certification process, though he stated the entire issue is in the proposal stage and any details can be altered to better fit the community.
The code would only look at issues of habitability, including the inspection of walls, doors, windows and smoke detectors. The code will also ensure residences are free from insect or rodent infestations and all electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems are functional.
Howerton addressed one concern about franchised hotel chains being subjected to the code despite the fact they undergo corporate inspections on a regular basis.
He said the code could be amended to allow franchise properties to be exempted in certain cases.
"We do have other properties that are independently owned and operated," he added, noting some of those structures have been the subject of prior complaints.
Turk assured one attendee the city will not unfairly target rental property owners should tenants begin calling with frivolous complaints. He said staff will only act on basic safety and operation concerns.
"We just want to make sure things are working [and] the ceiling's not falling down," Howerton said.
He said the city can deal with any noncompliance through citations, fines and, in extreme cases, even jail time. He added his recommendation that the city's code make room for flexibility instead of creating a contingency for any possible situation.
City council will address this issue during its regular meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.