This morning, Mayor Gahan signed into law G-15-05, an ordinance Adopting Chapter 160: Rental Housing Code. This ordinance requires the registration of any property in the city which will be rented to tenants.
“This is a historic step towards improving living conditions for residents and property owners in New Albany,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan.
Rental Registration has been discussed by several previous administrations and city councils, spanning back over a decade. At last night’s meeting, several community members and groups spoke in favor of the passage. Pat Harrison, a well-known local realtor, thanked the administration and council members for passing the rental registration ordinance. Greg Sekula of Indiana Landmarks also heralded the passage, and read a letter of support Brendan Brown, Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, which stressed the importance of the ordinance.
“The Commission feels strongly that both components of the ordinance – the registration of all rental units and their inspection – are important tools to help preserve New Albany’s historic buildings and improve the quality of life for its citizens,” read the letter. During the second reading of the G-15-05, the inspection portion was stripped from the ordinance. However, after the passage of the registration for rental properties ordinance, a committee was established to re-examine an inspection component to city ordinances, chaired by Councilman Al Knable.
“In its work, the [Historic Preservation] Commission deals regularly with deterioration of buildings caused by lack of maintenance, and the frustrations of trying to reach and work with absentee property owners; this ordinance would help address both of these issues,” stated the letter from Mr. Brown. “We urge you to move forward with [the inspection] committee work in a timely fashion.”
According to the 2010 census, New Albany has nearly 7,000 rental housing units that serve almost 44% of the people in the community. With such high rental demand, situations can occur where a portion of the city population becomes vulnerable as they are forced into sub-standard housing, by necessity. The city acknowledges that most of the landlords in our community are very responsible, but some do not maintain their rental property to code and are unresponsive to tenant concerns.
“The inspection component that the council committee is working on will help expedite these issues, and help protect some of our most vulnerable members of our community,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “I look forward to the day when the council delivers me an inspection bill to sign into law which will work in conjunction with the rental registration ordinance.”