Rental Property Registration Ordinance Passes First Reading
"Rental Property Registration" ordinance addresses property maintenance of rental homes.
A property maintenance ordinance for residential rental homes passed first reading during Irmo Town Council's regular meeting.
The proposed ordinance, which can be viewd in the attached PDF, requires landlords to adequately maintain rental properties or face penalties. Landlords also have to obtain a business license.
Councilman Paul Younginer said he received complaints from residents about homes that were not being kept and introduced the ordinance in an effort to address those dilapidated homes in the community.
Twelve standards for rental homes are outlined in section 11-19 of the ordinance, which address trash cans, doors and windows, fences and tree debris.
More specifically, the standards say the height of grass at rental properties cannot exceed 8 inches and that gutters must be "firmly attached to the roof."
Council voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance with Mayor Pro Tem Barry Walker Sr. opposing the ordinance.
Walker said he opposed the ordinace because of section 11-19.
"I think our police are better served going out and protecting our community from bank robbers (or) burglaries," Walker said. "They shouldn’t be out there with a ruler saying ‘OK, your grass is over 8 inches or 10 inches high.'"
"I think if the Town of Irmo came to me and said ‘Barry, your gutters are sagging and need to be fixed, and rusty and need to be painted, I would say to the Town of Irmo OK, have at it.'"
"I may not be in the position to paint it at the time but if you’re saying that’s a requirement for me living in the town of irmo that's fine. Show me the way I can get that done."
Younginer asked Walker to imagine living beside a run-down home.
He said he's heard frustration from people in the community and they're concerned about their property values decreasing because of the condition of some of the homes in their neighborhood.
"There’s houses that are abandoned, people are not taking care of them," Younginer said. "People are renting these houses and doing whatever they want to to the home.
"They don’t care about the yard, they don’t care about the neighborhood so it goes down hill. People put houses up for sale. They can’t get the money they want or should get from the house because the neighborhood is going down."
Walker said he understood the frustrations but the town shouldn't tell someone they needed to fix their house and not offer assistance.
Councilman Harvey Hoots said the ordinance is there to solve problems as one happens, not for code enforcement officers to go out with a checklist.
Another problem with the ordinance, Walker said, is that it's not applied to everyone.
“This ordinance has to be universally applied," he said. "It can’t just be applied to people that rent.”
Walker said section 11-19 of the ordinance should be addressed later.
Walker also said code enforcement officers would have a problem trying to determine which property was a rental or not.
Councilwoman Kathy Condom agreed that the ordinance should address homeowners at some point and that assistance should be provided to some.
"If we’re going to do this to rental property it’s unfair not to do it to owner-occupied homes," Condom said.
Condom also said there are groups in the town that help the elderly maintain their homes and that the town should keep a list to let people know of those groups’ services.
Mayor Hardy King also had some questions about section 11-19 and suggested the town attorney should tweak the ordinance before the next reading.
During public participation, a resident expressed his disapproval of the ordinance saying it was "ridiculous" and that council was "walking on people's rights."
The resident suggested council address the issues in a positive manner instead of approving the ordinance, which he said was a negative approach to getting people to maintain their homes.
A public hearing will be scheduled before third and final reading of the ordinance.
Lexington County Council also considered a similar ordinance but the plan was defeated with a 7-1 vote.
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