Boardman Township to begin landlord registration in coming months
By Jordyn Grzelewski
The township soon will begin registering landlords in a new program aimed at improving rental-property standards, in a community where approximately 30 percent of housing units are rentals.
The township recently won a lawsuit over the landlord registration program and will begin accepting registrations in the coming months, with plans to have the program fully operational next year.
While cities and villages in Ohio have similar programs, Boardman is the first township in the state to implement one.
The program will require landlords who own property in the township to register their contact information with the zoning office; pay an annual fee; maintain certain interior and exterior standards at their rental units; and be subject to periodic inspections.
The program, which township trustees first approved in 2014, was put in place to address issues the township has had with getting in touch with landlords, some of whom live out of town, about problems with their properties.
Krista Beniston, zoning and development director, said she thinks most of the community is supportive of the program.
“Rentals is one of the biggest issues people complain about,” she said. “They see it as one way we’re trying to address problems with rental properties.”
The township will require landlords to maintain their rental units “including the interior, exterior property areas and exterior structure, in good repair and in a safe and sanitary condition.”
It also requires the owner to maintain sanitary conditions in “shared public or common areas” and provide solid-waste disposal facilities.
Exterior and interior areas must be “free of any accumulation of refuse or debris;” windows must not be cracked, broken or boarded; exterior doors must be secured with a locking mechanism and not contain any holes; toilets and heating systems must be functional; and interiors must be “free of dampness or standing water that creates unsafe or unsanitary living conditions.”
The program also requires tenants to meet certain conditions, such as disposing of solid waste “in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in the disposal facilities or containers provided” and keeping plumbing fixtures clean and sanitary.
The fee for the rental-unit certificate property owners are required to obtain are: $40 per rental unit, or $150 for a building containing more than six rental units, plus $15 per unit. Applications will be accepted each year between Jan. 1 and March 1. Late fees of $20 per unit or $50 per building with more than six units will be charged for applications turned in between March 2 and Dec. 31.
The funds collected will be used to pay for the program costs.
Beniston said her office likely will inspect each unit once, then do inspections on a random or complaint-driven basis. But the inspection component is still being figured out.
Any fees collected this year will be applied to next year’s program. Registrations for 2019 will begin in the next few months and go through February.
“This is not going to solve all the issues, but I think it will be a really good tool for us to use to continue to go after problem properties,” Beniston said.