DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Under a new program, the city of Dayton Beach is inspecting rundown beach vacation rentals and fining landlords who don't fix problems found by inspectors.
    
Some call the initiative a money grab by city officials, but others are praising it as a way to spruce up dilapidated tourist areas.
    
"In my opinion it should be done," Lewis Dedo, owner of a 1920s rental duplex, told the Dayton Beach News Journal (http://bit.ly/115Xoki). "This is the entrance to the beachside. This is what people see."
    
But fellow rental property owner Tom Frost said he believes the program is unconstitutional and that city is acting unfairly by not inspecting owner-occupied homes too.
    
Shiela McKay-Vaughan, a former Daytona Beach city commissioner who has two beachside rental properties said a lot of the blighted properties in the area are owner occupied. McKay-Vaughan said the city should target all rundown properties, not just those that are rented.
    
The plan calls for the city to eventually inspect all 11,000 rental properties with four or fewer units under its jurisdiction, but inspectors are starting with 1,800 properties on Daytona Beach. City officials say larger rental properties are already inspected and that that those with four or fewer units had slipped through the cracks.
    
City Housing Inspector Jurgen Betz looks for things such as rotting wood and missing window screens, working power outlets, water heaters and smoke detectors. The measure requires all landlords with four or fewer units to register with the city and pay a series of fees. All are charged an initial application fee of $40, as well as another $50 inspection fee for each of their rental units.
    
In future years they'll pay $15 for the annual license renewal fee and $68 per unit for their inspection fees, according to city records.
    
The city is mulling ideas to inspire landlords to keep up their properties, such as instituting an inspection grading system that will allow those who do well to brag about that. The city might also reduce fees for those who consistently do well, city officials said.
    
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Information from: Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, http://www.news-journalonline.com

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