Learn More About Our Work
Get news and resources to help you make a difference.
Tool 4: Finding/Targeting Bad Apples

Tool 4: Finding and Targeting "Bad Apples"

In many cities, a small number of properties and landlords are responsible for a disproportionate share of problems of property maintenance, public safety, tax payments, or other obligations of property ownership and a disproportionate share of the city’s costs in dealing with its rental housing stock. Cities may want to identify and track those problem owners for a number of different reasons:

  • Targeting enforcement activities;
  • Imposing higher regulatory costs or obligations, such as a requirement to participate in training or prepare a remedial plan as a condition of licensing; and/or
  • Barring them from access to discretionary services or benefits offered by the municipality, such as opportunities to acquire municipally-owned property.


By targeting “bad apples,” a city can not only focus on the most serious offenders, but can use limited inspection and enforcement resources more effectively.


Raleigh, North Carolina has adopted a Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit ordinance. Landlords who have violated rental property ordinances and failed to bring the property into timely compliance or who have a pattern of repeat citations must obtain a two-year Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit (PROP) from the city. A landlord placed in the PROP program must pay $500 per year for the two-year permit to cover the cost of administering the program, and must attend a City approved residential property management course during the first year of the permit. Furthermore, the property for which the permit was issued must remain in compliance with City codes throughout the two-year permit period.


In order to create a truly effective scheme for identifying “bad apples,” a city will need to have a property database that enables them not only to identify problem properties, but to group properties by ownership in order to identify the most significant problem landlords. Since many landlords create shell companies to hold their properties, that can be difficult, although a landlord’s shell companies can sometimes be tracked with an address sort through a single address of record.


Problem Landlord Indicators

 problem landlord indicators



 ►Go to Tool 5: Covering and Recovering Cost