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Substandard Rental

Using the tools of local government can reduce the problem of "rent to abandon"

Here's the problem
Owners who don't maintain their property are a create a danger to their tenants, neighbors, and whole communities.

Local code enforcement has suffered from some ideas that have prevented effective enforcement
  • hard to find absentee owners (so go after local owners):  gives absentee owners an advantage
  • hard to deal with people hiding behind corporations, partnerships and trading clubs:  (go after resident homeowners instead)
  • money that goes into fines should go into repairs.
  • investors are 'good' for the community
  • If we enforce the code, tenants will become homeless.
The Broken Window strategy for crime control argues that one broken window in a community sets off a chain reaction of lawlessness.  MORE SO FOR PROPERTY NEGLECT.

 What is being tried

Crowdsourcing Code Enforcement

Expand the definition of nuisance

Looking to Cincinnati for models to control bad neigbhbors by controlling absentee landlords?
Neighbors often tell police and city officials that they feel powerless. Columbus City Council member Zachary M. Klein said he and Councilwoman Michelle Mills are working on legislation that would hold landlords accountable for multiple police runs to their properties.  Folks are fed up with problem properties in the neighborhood,” Klein said.  He is working with City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. to expand the city’s definition of “public nuisance” so officials can go after landlords who rent to habitually bad tenants.
read more here

Hefty fines for code violations

(from the Columbus Dispatch)  When a Pittsburgh judge thought a campus-area landlord didn’t show enough concern about a slew of code violations at an apartment building — broken windows, rats, no smoke detectors — he levied a $730,000 fine.And $65 in court costs,” District Judge Gene Ricciardi added. Ricciardi had no expectations of collecting such a fine, but he said he wanted to make a point.  “The defendant was not responsive. It did not appear she wanted to cooperate with the city,” Ricciardi said. “The fine got her attention.”  The landlord, Sophia Edgos, said she is fixing the problems.  “Everything is almost done,” she said. “I do go step by step with my inspector.”  Read more

Landlord registration
Newark's experience

Notes & Links