Article Comment 

Property owners unified in opposition to 'slum lord' ordinance


Allen Baswell



While the meeting room of the Columbus Municipal Complex was all but filled, only a small handful of people spoke about the City Council''s proposed "slum lord" ordinance at a Tuesday public hearing. 


Before the start of the hearing, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said he did not want this to be a debate with the council. 


"This is a chance for you the people to speak in favor of it or against it," he said. 


All spoke in opposition to the measure, including Rick McGill of Crye-Leike Properties Unlimited. 


"I, myself, am against the ordinance that is proposed. This new proposal will force the city to hire extra inspectors, and the cost of the licensing fees would not pay for extra inspectors," he said. 


As proposed, the ordinance, which is based on Tupelo''s rental ordinance, stipulates a license is required to maintain or operate a rental housing unit and the license fee will be $10 for owners of one to three rental units, $30 for owners of four to 10 rental units and $100 for owners of 11 or more rental units. 


Randolph Lipscomb, another rental property owner, said he was also opposed to the proposed ordinance. 


"There are many things already in the prior ordinance, so why not leave it as it is. Any additional fees would be a great cost to the city and landowners as well as tenants. This would be unreasonable, so I am opposed to the ordinance," he said. 


Dennis Coleman, owner of Coleman Real Estate, said before power is cut on for a new renter, the property owner has to make sure it meets the proper electrical code in order to pass inspection. 


"I am totally against this proposed ordinance," he said. 


Hilbert Williams, who is also associated with Crye-Leike Properties Unlimited, said the proposed ordinance, would put more burdens on the property owners that could eventually force them to give up their properties in the city. 


"I have tried to comply with every ordinance you have passed, If this passes, you are going to lose tax revenues. Please, do not pass this ordinance" he said. 


Additionally, an inspection of the rental property, by the Columbus Building Department, is required before any license is issued and an inspection may be performed before a license renewal is issued. 


All rental housing also should have heating, under the tenant''s control, and unvented combustion heaters or the use of cooking appliances as heaters is prohibited. 


The ordinance also stipulates space and occupancy requirements, required safety and security measures, landscaping restrictions and other things. 


Frank Webb said the city, "already has a wonderful code in place," and adding another statute to the books would not make things easier. 


"We''ve got plenty of regulations already," he said. 


Wade Wilson said it would be best to put some money into a program that would help poor people have the chance to afford good housing in Columbus. 


"There are people living in houses who do not have lights because they cannot afford them, something should be done about that," he said. 


Smith asked if there was anyone who wished to speak in favor of the ordinance. No one volunteered to speak. 


When the public comments concluded, each councilman was asked by Smith if they wanted to comment, none wished to make a statement regarding the proposed ordinance. 


The council will vote Feb. 16 on the proposed ordinance.


Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch



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Reader Comments

Article Comment Steven commented at 2/10/2010 12:34:00 PM:

These guys that are against this ordinance are nothing but lazy and greedy. They're not worried about what the ordinance would cost the city in fees or lost tax revenues. They're worried simply about the losses they themselves WILL take. There is not a single Landlord(individual, company, or otherwise) that has ever properly taken care of rental. Most of the rental properties in Columbus were built 40,50,60+ years ago, before there was "wonderful code already in place." There is no logical reason for this ordinance not to pass. Greed and laziness by a few men that own rental properties is not a reason to abandon this ordinance, but the very reason it should pass. This wouldn't have been spoken against like it was if these men did not already know that they had not been keeping their properties up to date. I say yes it should pass. Sure if it does some will have to spend money, some may even lose some properties all together, the bottom line is it needs to be done!


Article Comment Boss Hog Outlaw commented at 2/10/2010 12:48:00 PM:

I agree with Steven, 100%. If the rental property isn't fit for the property owners to live in, then it not fit to rent out. Property owners increasing rent but are not maintaining their rentals property. I hope this pass. Riverhill, VIP, and Coleman properties step your game up and it won't be a probleM!!!!


Article Comment Bill commented at 2/10/2010 1:11:00 PM:

I've already heard my landlord say that if this ordinance is passed he will be charging alot more for future renters to move in.This is only going to make it harder for the renters, who will be the ones "paying for it" in the long run.Its a great idea but its only going to cost the renters more to move in.


Article Comment Get Real commented at 2/10/2010 1:15:00 PM:

Ordinance or no ordinance. Makes no difference. Seems that if you rent, you are perfectly capable of inspecting the property you wish to live in to see if it measures up to your liking. If not, don't rent it. It is your choice and if you do rent, then discover you do not like it, you can always MOVE.

Columbus can't keep up with filling the potholes in the street, much less inspect each and every rental property.


Article Comment 7799 commented at 2/10/2010 3:48:00 PM:

When is the government going to figure out that you cannot tax businesses? Any tax on business, at any level and in any industry is ultimately a tax on the people who buy from the business. The business is there to make a profit, all taxes are passed down to the customers. It ain't rocket science!

In this case, this will be a tax on renters. If renters want to pay more in rent to have these new regulations, then that is well and good. The city council should poll the people renting in Columbus for feedback, not the landlords.


Article Comment Bubba Gump commented at 2/10/2010 9:46:00 PM:

Instead of having a system whereby the landlord has to wait for the city to inspect the property, why not have a way for renters to "turn in" landlords who are shady? Then the city can focus on the ones needing the attention instead of going to places that will pass the inspection.

It should be cheaper, and will keep the landlords on their toes.

I really don't see the need to start with, and certainly don't understand why the fuss when the city doesn't seem to mind the asbestos in the steam tunnels that run all over the W campus. Or the ditches breeding skeeters, or the crime rate, and lets not forget the "pay it if you want to" fine system that lets overdue fines linger for years.

This you want to get in a hurry over?


Article Comment raider commented at 2/10/2010 10:01:00 PM:

I own 4 rental properties but none in columbus. I am willing to bet that adequate laws are already on the books to protect renters but those laws are not enforced. Now the council will pass new laws that will be enforced for a couple of years and then things will return to the current status. After a couple more years there will be another situation that embarasses the city and in response, the city will pass some more laws and hire another inspector. Each year, the license fees will be raised to help pay for the inspectors and administrative cost. Each time the landlord has an increase in fees, he will have to pass on the cost to the renters. I can foresee a 20-25 percent increase in rents over the next five years or six years. The city would be better off if they make sure the current laws are enforce before they pass new laws.


Article Comment Ted commented at 2/11/2010 9:49:00 AM:

Right on Stephen. The people mentioned ini this article are crooks anyways. I wouldn't buy a dog house from anyone at Crye-Leike especially Rick "Combover" McGill


Article Comment HK commented at 2/11/2010 10:24:00 AM:

Ted-the combover comment was not funny--he has shaved his head. P.S. I am sure that you have something that others wish you would change about your looks.. I am sure that we all do. So-his hair or lack of has nothing to do with his business ethics.


Article Comment Is This Another City Plot commented at 2/12/2010 8:55:00 AM:

Remember the junk car ordinance? They only enforced that one on people who didn't have connections or people who pissed them off. Same with paving parking lots, your good Mayor didn't have to comply with that one while they strong handedly enforced it on others. I still don't think he's complied. Seems they are looking for easy ways to put some more people they don't like out of business. For those folks who are in favor of the ordinance where were you when they had the meeting? You want to flap your gums and bad mouth others but you don't want take action.


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