A bad time to pick on landlords

A bad time to pick on landlords

As the owner of an apart- ment complex in the city of Youngstown, I find the recent city decision to begin rental property inspections and licensing very poor timing and ill planned. It’s understandable that the city wants to protect its citizens and add funds to its coffers, but the rationale to do it now during these difficult economic times may have an impact on the city and its residents that will be significant and regrettable.

Youngstown has numerous rental properties, both single and multi-family, and most if not all of them are in need of repairs, some more so than others. Now the city has decided to get tough on the landlords and force them to repair their buildings in a time when they can barely keep their heads above water with their properties. It will not take much in the way of repair requirements by the city to push many landlords past what they can afford to do and ultimately into losing their property.

The plan is to charge an initial inspection fee for every rental unit and then force the landlords to make repairs at their expense within 60 days of the inspection based on a list of defects that the city feels need to be corrected to bring the property up to their standards. Failure to do the mandatory repairs within the limited time will result in fines.

Currently, nationwide and local rental vacancy rates are very high with no relief in sight and landlords are struggling with less money to pay their staff, their utilities, taxes, and most significantly, normal daily repairs. Assuming a landlord is levied with numerous repairs he can’t afford, he may choose to put the property up for sale. Most likely, with the new licensing and inspection rulings and the short time frame allowed for repairs, new investors will avoid Youngstown properties and look elsewhere. As a result, the property will sit unsold. The owner will eventually face foreclosure and ultimately abandon the property, which will result in more vacant properties for the city to add to its list of problems.

The city’s planning staff may have good intentions, and in good economic times it’s feasible, but in these poor economic times it is a bad idea and may backfire on the mayor and his staff.

William D. Parsons, Youngstown

The writer is he owner of Normandy Apartments.