Rental property owners may be required to register with city

A proposed ordinance may require rental property owners to register with the city of Reynoldsburg.

The ordinance, which went before city council¹s safety committee at a meeting Nov. 3, would require owners of rental properties to notify the city of their properties and pay a fee for the registration.

With more than 5,000 rental units in the city, code enforcement officers often spend time tracking down the owners when the property is cited for code violations, Chief Building Official Chet Hopper said.

Code enforcement officers sometimes find that the property owners reside out of town or are large corporations, requiring extra research time in locating the owner, he said.

"It typically takes us an hour to find out who the property owner is," Hopper said.

Rentals comprise about 33 percent of Reynoldsburg¹s housing, and some of the problems code enforcement officers have encountered include railing issues, damage to property without maintenance such as water infiltration, accumulation of garbage and sewage leaks.

"Our code enforcement officers are spending more time in the office when we could be out doing inspections," Hopper said.

Council member Ron Stake questioned the length of time it takes to look up property owners, pointing out the information often can be easily accessed through the county auditor¹s Web site. He also questioned how the ordinance would affect property owners who are in compliance.

"Why do you want to punish the property owners who do take care of their properties?" he said.

Mayor Brad McCloud said the cost of the registration would be a user fee on those who do business in the city.

While the fees in the ordinance are yet to be determined, Hopper has looked at other communities and found fees for single family dwellings typically are around $50 and duplexes around $100.

McCloud said the goal is to have a contact person for building and maintenance concerns for all rentals, especially in the case of property run by out-of-state owners.

But Clemens said while he agreed the city has had problems in the past finding rental property owners, there may be other solutions rather than requiring them to register with the city.

He suggested requiring the property owners, rather than the tenants, to put the water and sewer bills in their names. That way, the city has a contact person on record, but the registration fee could be avoided.

"If you can¹t flush the toilet and there¹s no water, you¹re going to find out who the property owner is," Clemens said.

Hopper said the goal is to have a plan in place by the beginning of the year, but acknowledged it would be a lengthy process.

He said if the ordinance is approved, the city would re-evaluate it 18 months later for its effectiveness.

Hopper also assured council members that the city has the resources in place to undertake a program such as this.

"We certainly don¹t want to have something in place we aren¹t equipped to handle," he said.

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