Clarion City Council Seeking Input on Rental Ordinance

At its June 2 meeting, the Clarion City Council approved the first reading of the revised Rental Housing Code. The second of three readings is scheduled for the Council’s next meeting on June 16, 5:00 p.m. – the day following Festival in the Park weekend – with the Council welcoming feedback.

Throughout the first half of 2014, the Clarion Public Safety Committee had been meeting to work on an ordinance to govern the condition of rental properties. While the International Property Maintenance Code remains binding, the Council has said that it is too long and involved to be useful locally, and believes that the new local ordinance will help ensure renters have safe living spaces and landlords have inexpensive inspections.

“One of the strengths of this is the simplicity,” said Councilperson Barb Mussman as the group discussed how detailed to make the inspection form. Councilperson Dave Maxheimer suggested adding a line prohibiting “exposed wiring,” but the ensuing discussion suggested that what constituted “exposed” may be too open to interpretation. “It becomes a judgment call, and that’s what we’re trying to get away from,” said Councilperson Lindsay German, with the Council expressing preference for definite and objective standards.

The current draft of the inspection form has 15 points with the option to check “yes” or “no” and a space for “notes/comments.” The points and their descriptions include “Hot Water: All sinks & tub / shower units run water until hot,” ; “Floors: Intact, no holes in floor surfaces,” ; “Room lighting: “Bulbs present, urns on & off with switch or pull cord;” and “Safety: smoke detector present & functional near sleeping areas.”

The overall ordinance requires landlords to register their rental properties with City of Clarion, have regular inspections, and pay fines that increase with subsequent violations. Citizen Terry Hilpipre asked questions about ambiguities in the draft about when inspections would be required. “It’s good to get outside input too, so thanks everybody,” said Councilperson Duane Asbe, thanking Hilpipre and Ted Brigger for their input.

Read more about the meeting – including the construction at White Fox Landing – in the June 5 issue of the Monitor!