COLUMBUS, Ind. — A proposed ordinance that would create a city landlord registry in south-central Indiana is facing opposition from property owners.

The Columbus ordinance would require any individual who rents out a property to provide the city with updated contact information and pay a fee.

Councilor Elaine Wagner told WXIN-TV that the city can’t always reach property owners when there are code violations, fires or crime. She said the city resorts to sending about 1,000 certified letters per year that cost up to $10 each.

“At seven to 10 dollars a pop, we don’t always get information back, we don’t always get a response, and so that’s a burden on the city,” Wagner said.

If the City Council approves the ordinance, Columbus would join a growing list of Indiana cities requiring such registries.

Columbus has become the second-most transient city in the state, according to Wagner and Robin Hilber, a community development projects coordinator. They said about half of downtown properties were once owner-occupied, but the number has declined to between 20 percent and 30 percent. Hilber said the ordinance would help meet changing needs.

Local landlord Susan Thayer Fye said the registry is additional paperwork with no real benefit. She fears it will drive away potential investors.

Fye said the local landlord association can help with contacting property owners if there is an issue. She said most property owners would prefer to track down landlords than add to their heavy load of government-mandated paperwork.

Wagner acknowledged the concern.

“But after the ordinance is passed and after it’s established, I think that people will see that it’s more helpful than it is harmful,” Wagner said.

If the ordinance is approved, property owners would have 60 days to register their rental properties or face a fine.

The first ordinance reading is scheduled for Jan. 16.


Information from: WXIN-TV, http://fox59.trb.com/news/

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