(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette continues its annual look back on the major stories of the year in this series, 2013 Moments in the Sun.)
This is the year that City Hall got tough on problem rental properties when it adopted a rental property ordinance that requires landlords or owners of rental properties – not their tenants – to register with the city codes department.
The substance of the ordinance, adopted by City Council in October, gives the city the ability to close rental properties if it is determined a single firearms or drug transaction has occurred there or if there are three disruptive behavior citations within a six-month period.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana also said the ordinance gives landlords and police a legal tool they need to go before a district judge to remove problem tenants involved in crime and other disruptive behavior.
While the law seems tough on tenants, it is meant to permit law-abiding tenants the right to live peacefully in rental properties, Campana said.
Passing the law, though, didn’t come easy and was in the works for more than a year before it was enacted.
The ordinance went into effect Nov. 15, and enforcement and registration of rental properties begins Jan. 1, according to Joe Gerardi, city codes administrator.
To gear up for that, city officials budgeted for two more codes enforcement officers in December, giving the city seven building inspectors, Gerardi said.
Also, a letter was sent in late November to every tax parcel owner in the city to let them know about the rental ordinance.
“We didn’t want homeowners or rental property owners to come to us and say we didn’t know about this ordinance,” Gerardi said.
The process of registering properties is not expected to take more than four to six months, he said.