Solon Councilman Proposes A Measured Approach To Rental Property Registration and Inspection

At the April 4th, 2011 meeting of Solon City Council, Ward 4 Councilman William D. Mooney presented a data driven take on Solon’s Proposed Rental Occupancy Ordinance.  Councilman Mooney is the former Director of City of Solon Public Works Department.  This post will aim to summarize the essence of Councilman Mooney’s statement.

Councilman Mooney said that the proposed Rental Occupancy Ordinance has two parts:-

  1. Rental property registration component and
  2. Rental property inspection component

Councilman Mooney supports the registration component because it provides valuable information about the landlords and tenants.   He believes that enough information is not available to pass the inspection component of the proposed ordinance.

Councilman Mooney said that he has two biases related to this issue,

  1. Big Government in Solon Ohio:  Councilman Mooney said that Northeast Ohio residents pay too many taxes and fees and this tax burden can be reduced by lowering the size and scope of the government.  The proposed legislation would require that every rental property to be inspected every two years.  He estimated there are approximately 1,230 rental units in Solon which would result in 615 (1230/2) rental property inspections to be scheduled, performed, reported and re-inspected by the building inspectors each year.  This will require additional staff in the building department.  About 14% of Solon’s housing is rental property, with the majority being multi-family housing.  Single family rentals are about 3% of Solon’s total single family housing stock as per Mr. Frankland’s (City of Solon Planning Director Robert Frankland’s) estimate.  This estimate is based on relating water bills to deeds.  Its not known if this number is increasing or decreasing.  Councilman Mooney said that more information involving certain aspects of rental properties should be gathered through the rental property registration program before instituting a rental property inspection program.  He felt that it is important to determine what problems need to be solved before initiating an inspection program.

  2. Point of Sale Inspections in Solon Ohio:  Councilman Bill Mooney does not like point of sale inspections and he believes that the rental property occupancy ordinance could evolve to inspecting owner occupied houses.  He said that government programs once begun do not go away and generally grow over time.  He said that most complaints stem from owner occupied single family homes (97% of City of Solon’s housing stock) and if the proposed ordinance is approved, rental properties will be inspected, but not owner occupied single family homes.  He referred to previous comments regarding a home for sale or rent which was in terrible condition and said this house would only be inspected if it were rented and not if it were sold and questioned the logic.

Councilman Mooney suggested the right approach is to move slowly, beef up the existing external inspection program,  start a landlord/tenant registration program and to gather information and data necessary (and not guesswork) to make a decision regarding inspections.  He believes the problems should be identified before solutions are designed.

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