Reynoldsburg City Council is considering an ordinance that would require all rental units within city limits to register and pay per-unit registration fees that range from $50 to $100 per year.
The ordinance received its second reading Dec. 17 at City Council's last meeting of 2018 and could be up for a third reading and a vote for implementation in January, according to Councilwoman Kristin Bryant, who introduced the legislation in late October.
It has been discussed during succeeding public service and transportation committee meetings.
"We have had several apartment projects introduced in the past couple years which have not been met with much enthusiasm by the community," Bryant said. "Many residents think we have enough apartments in Reynoldsburg as it is but most of them are poorly managed, aging and in disrepair.
"This legislation will hold rental-property owners accountable so either they bring their properties up to code and properly maintain them, or they can sell those properties to someone who will redevelop them," she said.
Bryant said a lot of the apartment complexes in Reynoldsburg have an average age of 40 years.
"Being over 40 myself, I know I'm not what I used to be, so I think it is probably safe to say that a lot of these complexes are not what they used to be," she said. "Because they aren't, it tends to draw criticism from community members when we do have new rental projects that want to come in."
She said rental registration would force some of the older complexes to "up their game" to get units up to code and allow residents of rentals to complain to the city if landlords don't take care of their properties.
Under the ordinance, all rental properties would have to register within 90 days of the time the ordinance goes into effect. The buildings would then be subject to city inspections between rentals.
Additionally, any newly built rentals would need inspected before someone could move in, Bryant said.
If a unit has not been inspected within two years, notice would be sent to the occupant that they have the right to request the city check it out, according to the ordinance.
Councilman Mel Clemens agreed the ordinance is needed, but said a separate city department would have to be established in order to enforce it.
"I think its something that we have to hire the right person to run it," he said. "I agree with the ordinance but I don't think we should put it in any of our building or development (departments), because they are busy enough."
Bryant said the annual fees would pay for personnel to man the new department and for the inspections. She said Development Director Andrew Bowsher told her an estimate of the number of rental units within city limits is 5,400. The minimum annual fee of $50 multiplied by 5,400 would be a minimum of $270,000 a year brought in through the yearly licensing fees, Bryant said.
Clemens said some landlords might raise tenant rents to pay for the fees.
"There are pluses and minuses to virtually everything we do," Councilman Brett Luzader said, "But one of the things that we have to look at, particularly with this piece of legislation, is it for the betterment of the city.
"I think it is something that the city needs."
Council President Doug Joseph agreed with Clemens that the city would have to create a new department, such as "property maintenance."
He said if council approves the ordinance after a third reading, that would authorize the legislation, leaving Mayor Brad McCloud to create a timeline for its implementation.
The ordinance states that registrations would be required for all rental dwelling units occupied by a party other than the owner for a period of more than six months during a single calendar year.
"This legislation will hold rental property owners accountable so either they bring their properties up to code and properly maintain them, or they can sell those properties to someone who will redevelop them."
-- KRISTIN BRYANT
Reynoldsburg City Council