The Rental Safety Verification Program (RSVP) promotes the health and safety of residents by requiring proof that rental properties are kept in safe and sanitary condition. Upon the successful completion of a basic safety inspection, Code Enforcement will issue rental properties with a Certificate of Rental Safety. A rental with a Certificate of Rental Safety is in compliance with minimum housing standards as established by federal, state and local law. Inspectors will not be looking for cosmetic repairs, but will focus on verifying compliance with basic safety standards.
RSVP housing inspections identify hazards in the home that, once addressed, have been shown to reduce risks of lead poisoning, asthma, unintentional injuries, and other health problems. In addition to health and safety benefits, RSVP preserves the quality of South Bend’s neighborhoods and available housing, protects vulnerable tenants, and stimulates re-investment into housing stock.
Please see the RSVP Overview brochure for more information.
Healthy Rental Homes
Housing should support the health and well-being of residents and not cause illness or injury. RSVP uses a visual assessment of the unit to determine if a rental is kept in decent, safe, and sanitary conditions to support a healthy living environment. The visual assessment of the rental unit is conducted by a trained housing inspector who will look at areas inside and outside of the home and document any hazards that require repair before the unit is considered compliant with existing safety standards. Visual inspection of homes has been determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be the primary way to identify health and safety problems. RSVP follows the Eight Principles of a Healthy Home adopted by housing and health experts that requires homes are kept: Dry, Clean, Safe, Ventilated, Pest-Free, Contaminant-Free, Maintained, and Thermally Controlled.
Become a Certified Rental
Landlords, owners, and property managers are encouraged to contact us before receiving a notice to schedule an inspection. Properties that are scheduled for inspection prior to receiving notice, and that pass on first inspection, will be granted an extra year of validity on their Certificate of Rental Safety. To schedule an inspection, property managers and owners can call the Department of Code Enforcement by dialing 311 (or 574-233-0311) to speak with the Program Coordinator or see below to fill out a request for inspection.
Inspections are scheduled Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-3:45 p.m.
Renters who suspect they may be living in substandard conditions are encouraged to register a complaint with Code Enforcement at any time by calling 311. Owners or property managers should be contacted first and given a reasonable opportunity to repair items before contacting Code Enforcement.
Notice to Inspect
If you have received by mail a notice for inspection, please call the Department of Code Enforcement at 311 (or 574-233-0311) to speak with the Program Coordinator or submit a request for inspection using the forms below.
Failure to schedule an inspection or submit an inspection waiver will result in financial penalties.
Property owners can apply for an inspection exemption if properties were built within the last 10 years, are maintained/subsidized by a government agency, or fall under occupancy arrangements such as group homes, temporary homestays, contract sales, or certain owner-occupied situations. The Department of Code Enforcement can accept private inspections if they meet the same standards as RSVP such as those conducted by a third party for real estate sales within the last three years. Please contact us with inquires on inspection exemptions.
Starting in 2019, RSVP inspections will be required of eligible rental properties with active code cases and referrals from the St. Joseph County Health Department. In 2020, the program will be phased in throughout the City based on areas that have shown to have the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning.
Prepare for Inspection
On the day of inspection, an inspector will look at the conditions of the property inside and outside the unit. The inspector will have a checklist of items to look for such as: chipping/peeling paint, visible leaks, working plumbing and electrical systems, proper sanitation, and adequate heat. The property owner, or designated agent of the owner, must be present during the inspection. The designated agent can be your property manager, a friend or relative or your tenant. Renters are welcome to attend the inspection or can choose to arrange entry to the property with the owner.
A sample inspection checklist (estándares de inspección) is available for owners and residents to know what the inspector will be looking for and where they will need access. Property owners and managers are encouraged to make repairs prior to inspection to save time and avoid penalties. Renters are encouraged to notify their landlords of any repairs needed on the property prior to the inspection. Renters are asked to put away any personal items they do not want seen and clear pathways for the inspector to access all areas of the property.
If the property does not pass inspection, the property owner will be notified of violations, provided time to make repairs, and required to schedule a reinspection. After each inspection, the inspector will prepare an inspection report for the property that will be sent to the property owner and available to the renter. Properties will be provided two inspections at no cost to owners or occupants: the initial inspection and the first reinspection. If identified problems are not fixed after two scheduled visits, the Department will charge a fee for additional inspections. Fines may occur in instances of continued noncompliance.
Once a property has passed inspection, the Department will issue a Certificate of Rental Safety for a period of one to five years. The time frame for Certificate renewal depends on the condition of the property and compliance with rental inspectors. If multiple inspections are required to verify safety, then the property will receive a certificate that requires more frequent reinspection and renewal (1-3 years). Properties that pass on first inspection or require minor repairs will receive a certificate with a longer period of time before renewal is due (up to 5 years).
RSVP Application Instructions
To schedule an inspection, property owners can call the Program Coordinator by dialing 311 (or 574-233-0311) or by submitting a request for an inspection by using the forms below.
There is a form for property owners who own a single rental property or unit, a form for property owners who own multiple rental properties or units, and a form for owners who wish to fill out a PDF version.
A rental unit is defined as a residential space governed by a single lease contract. For example, a house with one rent-paying family would be considered a single unit, while a building housing ten total apartments would contain ten residential units.
Please submit your request for inspection to:
- firstname.lastname@example.org (in PDF or Excel format)
- Department of Code Enforcement, 227 W. Jefferson Blvd., Ste 1300, South Bend, IN 46601
RSVP Property Status
To view the status of a property, please see this week’s updated list: as of 3/15/20
The RSVP property status list is currently updated weekly. A live, searchable list will be made available soon.
Terminology for property status:
- Certified – property has met minimum standards
- Condemned – property has extensive, major violations and the property is unsafe for occupancy
- Conditional Certification – property requires non-critical repairs that can’t be completed within 60 days (typically weather dependent, exterior repairs)
- Does not Qualify for RSVP – property is owner-occupied and/or non-residential
- Exempt – property does not require an RSVP inspection (most often due to having received an inspection by another agency in the last 12 months)
- Illegal for Non-Owner Occupancy – inspections initiated or completed but property has not achieved certification
- Inspection Process – property has an RSVP inspection scheduled
- Under Review – we have initiated contact with the owner to schedule an inspection ~ or ~ someone has contacted Code to schedule an inspection – but no inspection has been scheduled yet
City Resources for Home Repair
Scheduling and Forms
- Information on Requesting an Inspection
- Rental Safety Verification Program FAQs
- Rental Safety Verification Program Brochure / Informacion de RSVP en espanol
- Eviction Defense Information
- Top Ten Common RSVP Violations
- Rental Rights and Responsibilities
- Rental Safety Verification Program Ordinance
- EPA’s Database of Certified Renovation and Lead Dust Sampling Technician Firms