Housing ordinance punishes many for a few

Published 2:47 pm Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am a member of the newly formed Responsible Landlords Association, and I am writing in protest of the proposed ordinance requiring rental housing licensing of landlords. I have been a landlord in Albert Lea since 1974 and have provided affordable housing for new residents to our community, retirees and other citizens who were not yet able to purchase a home of their own at the time. I started out as a tenant when I first moved my family to Albert Lea in 1954. I would like to express my disapproval of the proposed ordinance, as an experienced landlord over the last 34 years and support of the opinions expressed by our former and experienced chief of fire and inspections, Orrion Roison.

In general the proposed ordinance is unfair, unworkable and unreasonable. If currently there are only approximately one-half of a percent of rental units with open complaints against them, it is unfair to punish all landlords. A housing code that could and should address these complaints already is in existence. Several provision in the proposed ordinance specify that rental properties also comply with other city codes and state statues. This is too inclusive, redundant and is bureaucracy at its worst.

The proposed ordinance states, in part, “It is unlawful … to rent [or] lease … without obtaining the required rental license and inspections (34-4 a) … further it shall be unlawful to occupy the unit in violation of the proposed ordinance” (34-4(1)). This shows no respect for the current law abiding landlords. For Albert Lea, a city that considers itself progressive this a regressive move.

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Finally, the proposed ordinance states that landlords “shall be responsible to cause persons occupying any dwelling unit to conduct themselves as to not cause the premises to be a nuisance.” (34-17 a) Landlords can screen potential tenants and suggest expectations of conduct in lease agreements but they can not be held responsible for the tenants conduct.

In conclusion, the proposed rental housing licensing ordinance is redundant and disrespectful of an overwhelming majority of responsible and conscientious landlords operating in Albert Lea. There has to be a better way for the landlords and city officials to work together within the existing ordinance to correct the few residential units not up to acceptable standards.

Truman Thrond

former county building inspector

former county administrator and retired Realtor

Albert Lea