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TRO rejected; landlord hearing set to object to rental program

Published: Fri, July 2, 2010 @ 12:03 a.m.




A real-estate organization is asking the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to stop the city’s rental-registration program, contending it is unconstitutional.

The Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investors Association filed a request Wednesday for a temporary restraining order and for a preliminary-injunction hearing. Magistrate Eugene J. Fehr rejected the TRO request Thursday and scheduled the hearing for 2 p.m. July 13.

“We’re very confident there will be a dismissal before the 13th,” said city Prosecutor Jay Macejko. “We’re pretty confident, should the hearing go forward, we’ll prevail.”

Mark Hanni — attorney for the 70-member association and its president, Sherry DeMar — wrote in the complaint that the program is unconstitutional because it’s “vague,” violates “the property owners’ right to be free from unreasonable searches,” and the program “is not a valid exercise of the city’s power to license.”

Also, Hanni contends the association’s members “will suffer irreparable harm and damage” if the program takes effect.

The program requires those with rental property to pay the city $20 per unit for an annual license. If a property is a multifamily dwelling, the first unit is $20, and each additional unit in the structure is $15.

Landlords had until Wednesday to register with the city. But the city is giving landlords a 15-day grace period to submit registration forms because it’s a new program, said Bill D’Avignon, the city’s community development agency director.

The city hired the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority to do annual inspections of rental units at $15 each, he said.

The plan is to start inspections later this month so if the injunction is denied it won’t have an impact on the program, D’Avignon said.

The city had estimated there are about 6,000 rental properties in the city. But the city was only able to find legitimate addresses for the landlords of about 4,000 units, D’Avignon said.

As of Thursday, land-lords of about 500 units had submitted forms to the city, he said.

“It’s pretty low as far as percentage-wise, but the [investors association] banded together to challenge it” and didn’t return forms to the city, D’Avignon said.

DeMar and Hanni couldn’t be reached Thursday by The Vindicator to comment.

DeMar said last month that the city program does nothing to remove blight, isn’t financially sustainable, and unfairly impacts good landlords.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Run for the hills.... Mark Hanni is practicing law!

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2ytownladydee(10 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

My neighbor is a renter. He and his children has occupied the house for over 20 years. His landlord has done nothing to maintain the house. The roof leaks, spouting is falling off, the house is literally falling apart around them. Any effort to contact his landlord goes unanswered. We are hoping with this new law, finally something will happen to put this home on par with the rest of the neighborhood. A homeowner must meet certain standards in the upkeep of their home, why not a landlord?

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3Iwannamove(61 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

well said ytownladydee I think anything is good for these slumlords to clean up there properties. Its a shame they charge rent on some of these properties that are well below the standard of living

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4yannicontpunclejuby(49 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

i agree-i've rented alot of apartments in youngstown.what happens is some clown who can't get a real job so they get some houses on credit or their family helps them to stop them from being an embarassment-and they think their gonna be millionares,big shot landlords and the first time they have to spend $10 bucks on one of their places-it's like hey wait this comes out of my pocket.
one landlord RAY WEST routinely steals the security deposit of everyone moving out of one his units with a bunch of false charges-on the other hand there's two gay guys that live next to my buddy that are pretty cool and take good care of their units

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5One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Terrible Law - and here's why:

1. The only people who will take this seriously are the "Good" landlords. The ones who play by the rules in the first place. They may have a few petty things wrong with their properties, but by-and-large, these are the people who play by the rules. These are NOT the people who are the problem. The people who ARE the problem will not register, will not answer the phone when they are contacted, will not respond to Citations and when "liens are applied to their properties, they simply laugh at them. They can do this because they only paid $3000 for the house in the first place, put no money into it, extracted a bunch of rent out of it and then abandoned the place because they knew going into it that they were NEVER going to sell it anyhow.

2. There are tons of rules, regulations and ordinances in place right now that could easily be applied to these properties to cause them the same grief that this registration/inspection ordinance is supposed to (but wont) cause them. Why are the existing laws not being enforced? The answer is because they run into the same problems stated above. They can not enforce rules against people who don't care in the first place. The housing, zoning and demolition part of our city government is toothless! The only thing they can do is make a big political show out of the idea that they are "Making landlords register and holding them accountable!" What a load of crap. . . they are doing no such thing, which brings me to what they are, in-fact accomplishing.

3. They are causing legitimate rental property owners to give up. Many of these people are individuals that invested in 2 or 3 or 10 houses and do their best to maintain them in the face of deadbeat tenants, escalating utility costs, and upkeep/upgrade costs. Adding yet another layer of government bureaucracy may well push many of these individuals to abandon their rentals. You may say. . . "Why would a 20 dollar fee cause this?" The answer is that, by itself, it wouldn't. But you get some YMHA inspector having a bad day, and decides to site a landlord for every chickens&^%it thing they find - all of a sudden that 20 dollar fee has turned into a multi-thousand dollar "mandatory" repair bill. Personally, I know that if this were to happen to me, Youngstown would have 2 more vacant properties (mine). I have not the money or the will to put up with this.

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6One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Cont'd from above:


We need our City Council and City officials to do their jobs! I am tired of hearing about how staffing cuts an budget restrictions have tied their hands as to what they can do. This is simply a government cop-out that none of the rest of us average folk can get away with. When the property taxes come due, does the excuse, that I got laid off and don't have the money work? No. They don't accept it from us and we need to stop accepting that sort of cant do crap from them. Suck it up and find a way to get it done. Quit whining about why you cant.

Phil Kidd started with nothing more than a sandwich-board that said "Defend Youngstown" on it. Through sheer will and determination, he has caused an incredible amount of positive change in this city, and he did it alone! He accomplishes more in a day than our government folks do in a year.

There are many more folks just like him who are here because they want to be here. They want to make a difference in their community and do genuinely care about this city. I count myself as one of them and will do whatever is needed to help our officials do their jobs to make it a better place to live work and raise a family.

I will never agree that making a big political show with garbage legislation like this is the way to accomplish anything but pushing further away, the very people who do care and do their best to play by the rules.

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7yannicontpunclejuby(49 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

it would be better for the neighborhoods if the "bad landlords" were forced by inspections, liens or what ever to abandon their houses-they could be torn down---a block with four houses on it with people who care,is better than a block with ten houses and half of them are dumps,falling down around themselves--there's plenty of places to rent in the suburbs[liberty,boardman,austintown-haha]

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8dd933(295 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

This is something that many cities do. (You didn't think that our City Council thought it up by themselves do you?) It should have been done years ago. I agree that the "code enforcement" sections of city government have been lax in recent years, People retired and weren't replaced. Focus switched from code enforcement to demolition.

Some credit should be given to Mr. D'Avignon for trying to improve housing conditions as well as the general appearance of the city.

We can't complain about the city for being substandard and then complain about them trying to improve conditions. The property owners would gain much if this program as well as the agressive demolition policy and neighborhood organizing efforts actually caused property values to increase.

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9Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

@ dd933

Here's the thing,..

Where I respect you have a differing perspective than I do about this. In my detecting it as a measure of Fraud that reeks of extortion.

In opposition of perspectives I'm requesting you validate your references. Where you state -- " There's many cities that does it ".

See because where there's in fact NOT " Many " cities that does it at all. As aside from possibly municipalities in commonwealth States that are governed quiet differently.

Or private property gated communities in non commonwealth States. That residents within the private estate agree on not exact but similar provisions and or measures.

Other than that I'm not aware of ANY cities or municipalities that's done such a fraudulent force feeding thing and gotten away with it,.. do name some if you will or can.

See although highly unlikely, Bill D'Avignon Deputy Director Youngstown Planning Department and Finance Director David Bozanich may have honorable intentions.

Where Mayor Williams and the notoriously corrupt commissioners that are backing by allowing / not opposing it.

Just may not know any better in regards to such an infringement that can and should be struck down with merit upon proper legal challenge.

However, without bias as it stands and reads. By statutory law this is a measure that's overstepping their collective reign of authorities.

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10Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

@ ytownladydee

No, no,..

See that's just as unfortunate as it is non-applicable here,..

See that proposed law being discussed is a fleece and wouldn't help your neighbor a bit. Where not to be insensitive here, but just like you know that your neighbors place isn't worth renting or subjecting their family to try to live in,.. they do too.

See the only thing that any other inspection by you, me, your neighbor or anyone else would do. Is formalize something you and your neighbor already know and or knew.

To include a verdict of what your neighbor should have had more responsible sense enough to do years ago,.. MOVE !!!

Be it known it's not a mass problem and no inspection is going to make anymore sense than that. Because what you detailed is a matter / instance where your neighbor is at as much fault as the alleged despondent landlord.

See both have have rights and sense and it's only your friend / neighbor's fault that they're not using theirs.

The rights they have is to either accept or not accept such a place. Or if / when a landlord refuses to make livable repairs.

The tenant withholds rent to contract for repairs just as a court would. Thus if the deadbeat landlord wants their day in court to challenge it so be it.

See in a rental market the tenant has the right and obligation to accept or not accept substandard conditions. Where if deterioration starts after having moved in the tenant STILL has the right and obligation to their family and themselves,... To move out from any dwelling that is a unsafe and or unkept structure.

That said, nobody needs to buy / pay into any mass " more money for nothing " scheme to deduce that. See this isn't a Simon says Pee Wee's playhouse it's a municipality with laws of protective rights and governance.

A municipality where property ownership is just as much an individuals right upon affordability and interest to own as much as a tenants right to accept or reject whats being offered as available.

Nowhere in that long established protocol and accord of private enterprise. Neither lawfully warrants, validates nor statutorily summons a city to infuse a profiting of officials.

In any manner of dictatorial takeover in a devised manner of orchestrating what amounts to as nothing short of extortion.

See beyond visually accepting to rent or lease a given property. That tenant also has a right to request a formal inspection for whatever reason. And if not agreed to by the landlord the prospect tenant isn't obligated to accept the place.

That's called common sense and it duly denounces any adherence to an unjust orchestration of infringement manner. For any city employee to impose upon anyone's rights for a poorly hatched plot of a plan for predatory profit,..

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