On Monday, the city’s Community Improvement Committee met to discuss recommendations on furthering legislation regarding rental properties and holding landlords accountable.
The purpose of doing this would be to keep the renters of Bowling Green protected and safe. The talk of legislation has come up several times throughout the years, but nothing came out of those previous conversations. The CIC was constructed in order to get citizens’ input of what they would like to see from the city to make inspections and registration mandatory.
Second Ward John Zanfardino, At-Large Neocles Leontis and Fourth Ward William Herald have overseen the committee since January. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down city buildings to the public, the CIC held routine meetings with guest speakers. Amongst the speakers have been tenants, landlords, attorneys and the fire department. Each respected party has given their insight of whether they believe new legislation would impact the city positively or negatively.
With the opinions and thoughts of others affected by the potential legislation heard, the CIC council members drafted proposed recommendations for further legislation. The recommendations for legislation were due by 5:30 p.m. on April 6. The meeting can be viewed here.
The recommendations of the CIC council members are based on previous recommendations by city administration. The CIC believes these initial steps will help legislation move forward.
The major outcome of the CIC’s recommendations is asking for a registration system to be put in place for all rental properties including homes converted into rentals and complexes. This would allow renters to know the properties available and potentially the conditions of the properties. Currently, the city’s proposed legislation excludes complexes because the lobby of these buildings is inspected annually. The CIC argues that this is insufficient due to not knowing the quality of living for the tenants’ spaces.
The CIC and city administration also recommend a mandatory checklist system for all properties. The checklist would examine the interior and exterior of the property and would be accessible for the tenants. The checklists would be given to potential renters prior to moving into the property, and they would be completed by tenants and landlords with the landlord’s signature.
One of the last major recommendations made by the CIC is that random inspections should be given to a number of units. Cities like Oxford, Ohio currently have mandatory inspections every 18 months for all rental properties. The random inspections allow the city to hold landlords accountable for potentially unsafe properties.
According to the Improvement Plan published in 2014, the Bowling Green housing stock is in slight decline due to the condition of homes and rental properties.
In the written proposal, CIC member John Zanfardino said, “It is urgent that we aggressively address our declining rental housing stock and that we take significant steps to improve the appearance and safe living conditions of these units. We need to act boldly and with fairness to address this issue and we need to do it sooner than later.”
The community improvement committee will discuss their findings and recommendations once the city council can meet as a whole once again, discuss the recommendations and come to a conclusion. The original date to discuss is planned for May 4, but is unlikely to happen due to the novel coronavirus.