Date of Award

1980

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)

Department

Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

Dennis C. Muniak

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to examine the present status of housing codes in the State of Rhode Island and the ways they can be used to maintain the present housing stock. Housing codes are a legal statement of the minimum acceptable standards for dwellings to maintain the health, safety, comfort and welfare of the occupants. Included in the standards are the basic human needs of light, ventilation and clean water.

Although often thought of as the same thing, housing and building codes are very different. Building codes deal with a building while it is being built and until it is occupied. Housing codes, however, deal with the use, occupancy and maintenance of existing buildings that are occupied as homes. Housing codes are empowered by the police power of the government. They point out the duty of both the owner and the occupant to keep the housing in decent condition. The enforcement of the housing code falls on the local government. Generally the local government is not able to actively enforce the code and as a result the code is unenforced until there is a complaint lodged.

The enforcement of the housing code sets in motion a process that could be used to protect and preserve the entire housing stock of a city and prevent it from falling into a state of disrepair and possibly abandonment. The extent to which the code is enforced, the size of the staff available to enforce the code and the knowledge of the staff in the aspects of the housing code are all important factors in determining the effectiveness of the code enforcement.

In order to provide an understanding of housing codes, the areas of their history, legal status, administration, and economics will be explored. Rhode Island has a statewide housing code that is to be the adopted model for all the municipalities in the state; a history of that code and a study of the way in which localities and agencies use the code will be included. The municipalities administration of the housing code will be evaluated with the aid of a survey of the localities. The final chapter will cover the techniques that may be used to update or better enforce, in order to improve, the code.

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