Council Members Want to License Rental Properties
City passes controversial new interior property maintenance code
A program for licensing all of Kent's rental properties will soon be up for discussion by city administrators and members of Kent City Council.
Members of council voted this week to have city administrators study a potential plan for licensing all of Kent's rental properties and present that plan to council at a future meeting.
Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer, who asked council to vote on the issue, did not put a deadline on when city staff have to make the presentation.
"I think it’s time we license rental properties," Councilwoman Tracy Wallach said. "Other college towns in Ohio have licensing on rental properties."
The vote to have city administrators study such a plan passed 5-4 with council members Jack Amrhein, Garret Ferrara, Shaffer, Roger Sidoti and Wallach voting for it at Wednesday's meeting. Council members Mike DeLeone, John Kuhar, Robin Turner and Wayne Wilson voted against the licensing program study.
The city has a program through the Kent Health Department that issues licenses to rooming houses, which house two or more unrelated people, but the program does not encompass all rental properties in Kent.
The vote to have city administrators study the licensing program came minutes after another close vote on a controversial interior property maintenance code that council approved during committee earlier this month. The new interior maintenance code applies to both rental properties and owner-occupied houses.
Councilman John Kuhar said he was opposed to the new interior maintenance code because there are already regulations in place, both on the local and state level, to protect tenants of rental properties.
"It's an invasion of privacy and it’s an invasion of your personal property rights," Kuhar said. "If I’m renting a single family home or I’m renting a duplex, I’m renting the privacy of that."
City officials, however, said at the committee meeting earlier in March that the tenants would have to invite city inspectors in and that city officials can't just enter a property at will.
Shaffer said she believes safety outweighs privacy in this situation.
"The city staff gave a very impassioned and reasoned presentation that convinced me to my satisfaction that this was the appropriate route to take," she said. "If we do have abuses I believe we can take another look at it."
Kuhar, Turner, Wallach and Wilson voted against adopting the interior maintenance code. Shaffer, Amrhein, Ferrara, Sidoti and DeLeone voted to adopt the new interior maintenance code, which takes effect immediately.