NORTH TOWNSHIP — After nearly a decade of stops and starts, the city of North Township is moving forward with a plan to require some landlords to register their rental properties with the city.
Administration manager Patrick DeOrio told a council meeting this week that registration will help protect the health and safety of residents by holding landlords accountable, while some council members said that registration would help the city ensure that all residents pay the appropriate local taxes.
“It’s about health, safety and well-being,” DeOrio said. “It’s incidental to me that we’re going to find out about income tax. It’s incidental to me that I’m going to find tenants who run businesses out of these apartments. It’s going to be incidental to me that the values of the properties be increased.”
The Council voted 5-2 in favor of the second reading of the legislation. It would require owners of eight or fewer units on their premises to apply for a renewable rental permit from the city for a fee of $100 for single units, $150 for two units, $200 for three units, and $50 per unit for owners of more than three units.
Prior to issuing a license, inspections would be required and would be carried out by SAFEBuilt, with whom the city has already contracted for various building permit and code enforcement services. Owners can undergo up to three inspections to receive the license, with chances to remedy any violations between each inspection.
“The charge is nominal for shouting out loud.”
The duration of the rental license – and therefore the need for repeat inspections – depends on the number of violations found during the inspection phase of the licensing process. For example, owners who have less than two violations will receive a three-year permit, while those with more than nine violations will only be able to obtain a six-month permit.
“Fees are paid each time a property owner applies for or renews a license and the license term is based on the number of violations on the third inspection (if the property needs three inspections),” the registrar said. of the Ben Young Council. “The hope is that by giving owners the opportunity to correct violations before they negatively impact license life, most issues, especially minor ones, can be resolved quickly without no penalty.”
Supporters of the council legislation said registration would help them know how many rentals were in the city and where they were, which could help them determine whether local taxes were being paid. Inspection data could help determine if there are certain needs in the tenancies that the city could address, such as reducing lead or asbestos.
“I manage my parents’ properties – they’re aging – and for my part, I’m all for a bit of extra scrutiny and fees,” Ward 1 Councilman Jamie McCleaster said. . “I think that makes everyone feel secure. I think that proves that the quality of the house is there. I mean the nominal fee for shouting out loud.”
Estate agents oppose registration, claim it’s ‘not necessary’
In the Canton du Nord, approximately 35% of housing units are occupied by tenants, which represents nearly 2,600 units and a median rent of $834. The remaining 65%, or 4,800 units, are owner-occupied, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Rental landlords are currently required to register their properties with the county, but County Council member Daryl Revoldt said few do, and even then the county only requires contact information about the property. , not inspections. He said the council had randomly selected 15 of the 100 North Township rentals registered with the county and found that three of them had registered nuisance in the last three years.
Kayla Atchison, director of government affairs for Stark Trumbull Area Realtors, said her organization believes the legislation will discourage renters and discourage people from becoming homeowners.
“Obviously this increases costs for owners, and more likely than not these costs will need to be shifted in order to make business, as in operating units, profitable,” Atchison said.
She said she would rather see the city stick to external inspections only and enforce existing ordinances regarding noise complaints or other tenant complaints to manage the unit.
“If there are problems on the outside, there are probably problems on the inside,” Atchison said.
The estate agents group and the two council members who voted against the proposal challenged its limited scope by only applying to owners of eight or fewer units. Council members John Orr and David Metheney both said they were in favor of tenancy registration generally, but would like it to apply to all tenancy owners as well.
DeOrio said that at current levels of funding and staffing for the enforcement department, the city needs to start with the limited proposal before scaling up.
Rent registration protects tenants, lawyers say
Rental listings are not uncommon. Surrounding communities, including Akron and Youngstown, use them.
Community Legal Aid lawyer Andrew Neuhauser said they have been helpful to these communities by helping to identify rental market issues for municipal governments and how to allocate resources.
He said that in Summit County, registration is required for landlords to receive CARES Act assistance, and landlords cannot conduct evictions unless their tenancies are registered.
“We’ve never heard any complaints from tenants that the inspection process invades their privacy or anything like that,” Neuhauser said. “In most situations, inspections only take place if there is a complaint about the condition of the rental property.”
Neuhauser said his organization, which helps low-income Ohios access legal assistance, has fielded about 100 calls from North Canton since the start of 2021 for help with housing issues.
The ordinance will be read and voted on once more in council before being approved.
Sam Zern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-580-8322. You can also find her on Twitter at @sam_zern.