The City of Lakeland is exploring creating an online registry of rental properties.
- Absentee landlords difficult to contact
- Rental registration program incentivizes getting properties to code
- Registration would be free
It would be helpful to people like Rick Soto, who lives in Dixieland and has a hard time getting in touch with absentee landlords.
"The absentee landlord situation is that they're hard to get ahold of, the lawns are not maintained, the houses are pretty much falling apart, not painted, bad wood, the roofs are in bad shape," said Soto.
Soto went on to say when the properties fall into disrepair, it affects everyone else in the neighborhood who keeps up their property.
"We've had enough situations with properties already going down in value. So whenever a lot of people try to sell their home or buy a home, they look at the neighbors and they don't want to come into the community," Soto said.
The city of Lakeland has listened to the concerns of residents like Soto. Its proposed rental registration program would give landlords an extra incentive to get their properties up to code and improve the quality of life in Lakeland’s neighborhoods.
The proposal would require landlords to register their properties for free. If their property is cited for more than one code violation, the landlord would incur a fine when they renew or register their property.
The fines would range from $150 for two to three citations, and $500 for six or more citations.
According to the draft ordinance, large apartment complexes, student housing, and public housing would be exempt except if they’re cited for three or more violations in any twelve month period or if their occupants are charged with two or more criminal violations in any twelve month period. The proposal also includes a code enforcement officer examining the exterior of registered rental properties at least once every three years.
The officer would examine the properties from any nearby public space, unless invited inside.
City staff has been working on the proposal for months. The proposal currently faces opposition from realtors, landlords, and two commissioners.
"I think it's a slight overreach of government," said explained Commissioner Justin Troller. "I believe that we currently have some rules and regulations on the books that we can enforce to their full extent before adding another layer of government."
Troller predicts that if the proposal is passed into law, it would get repealed.
Despite the opposition, the city continues putting final touches on the draft ordinance. A public hearing on the issue is expected to take place in September.