Struthers considering legislation to tighten control on rental properties
By Graig Graziosi
Landlords in Struthers will likely face tougher regulations if city council approves an ordinance meant to help the city keep better tabs on who is living within its borders.
The legislation – based on a similar law adopted in Boardman – would require landlords to register their properties with the city and pay a fee based on the number of rental units in a structure. The registration and fee would be mandatory even if an individual’s rental units are empty. Landlords would have to re-register their units each time a new tenant occupies one of their rentals.
Nearly half of the city’s properties are rentals.
Mayor Terry Stocker said the legislation would require more discussion among council members before he feels it would be ready for passage, but he believes it’s important for city administrators to have tighter control over who is living and renting in the city.
“We run into issues a lot with out-of-town landowners,” Stocker said. “We have people who own homes in Struthers that live in Texas, California; we even have someone from Thailand. This legislation would hopefully help us get in contact with those landlords and improve our ability to hold their feet to the fire in terms of maintaining their properties.”
In addition to the mandatory registration, the legislation in its current form also would require landlords living far outside the geographical area to establish a local agent to manage any complaints or concerns the city has about the property.
Law director John Zomoida said he believes the legislation will keep landlords accountable while ensuring renting a property in the city isn’t a mire of red tape.
“I think what the council is doing is a good balance,” Zomoida said. “I don’t believe anything the city is asking for is difficult to satisfy.”
City council likely will move on the legislation soon after returning from recess in September, though Stocker has expressed a desire to revisit the legislation and ensure the city can handle the workload it could create.
“We need to make sure we’ve got the staffing to actually do this,” he said. “It’s possible we could get flooded with registrations, and we’ve only got one person doing inspections here.”