Rental Registration Committee discusses program’s fees

By Charlotte Caldwell - [email protected]

SIDNEY – The Rental Registration Ad Hoc Committee – started in response to a rental registration program ordinance introduced to City Council on Nov. 28 – considered starting the rental registration program with no fees for 12 months at a meeting on Jan. 17.

The meeting began with a review of the current revisions that the staff has proposed to the committee. The current program states:

• Every landlord is required to register each unit;

• If the landlord does not live within 75 miles of Sidney, the property must have an agent physically located within 75 miles. The property owner must submit information to the city as part of the registration;

• Any change in registration information must be changed with the city within 30 days;

• A property will be deemed a certified rental if it is inspected;

• City council will set and periodically revise fees for registration and inspection;

• Exemptions include single-family dwellings that are occupied by members of the property owners’ immediate family; two-family dwellings, only if the owner occupies one of the dwellings, then the personal residence unit of the owner-occupant shall be exempt; nursing homes; hotels and motels; dormitories; group homes; b&bs; owner-occupied condos; halfway houses; jail/prisons and mobile home parks;

• The property owner will give the tenant information every year or to every new tenant about city rules;

• The staff will pull appeals language from the building code;

• The penalties remain: First offense, third-degree misdemeanor, fine of $500 and/or 30 days in jail. Second offense, second-degree misdemeanor, fine of $750 and/or 90 days in jail. Third or any offense thereafter, first-degree misdemeanor, fine of $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail;

• Owners may be required to let the administrator inspect. If they fail to schedule an appointment within 30 days, the administrator will select a date and time. Failure to cooperate will result in the administrator possibly getting a search warrant from the municipal court judge;

• A property owner must cancel inspections by 9 a.m. of the day of the scheduled inspection or receive a $100 fine. The following fine would be $250 if the rental is not available for inspection again.

Chairman and Law Director David Busick suggested no fees for 12 months in response to the committee’s landlord’s continued opposition to any proposed fees. Committee member Tom Echemann mentioned that Franklin County does not include fees with its registration program. Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth requested additional time to think over the logistics of the proposal and said that a fee schedule and enforcement penalties can be presented in more detail at the next meeting.

Community Development Specialist Kyle Havenar said the appeals section of the legislation is still being developed and the fees are still being calculated, but preliminary fee estimates are between $400 and $2,500 per year for the property owners who do not submit to an inspection during registration. He also said the scale would likely be grouped based on the number of units. All in attendance noted that there is opposition in the entire landlord population to the jail time included in the penalties. While Gleason has continued to voice that he opposes any fees, he agreed with penalties for those who do not register or fail to comply with the program.

The next Rental Registration Ad Hoc Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 4 p.m. in the council chambers.

By Charlotte Caldwell

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.