Jan 172013



By Wesley Brown

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The City Council tonight will consider a violation-based rental registry for west Greenville and the Tar River-university neighborhood that would give “strikes” to irresponsible landlords.

After two or more housing code violations, properties will be subject to inspection. If a landlords get three strikes, or their property ranks in the top 10 percent of Greenville sites for crime and disorder, they must receive a permit to continue to lease homes, according to early proposals of the plan.

The program is the brainchild of District 3 City Councilwoman Marion Blackburn, who since being elected to the board in 2010 has asked staff to start with single-family homes and create a list of achievable steps to form a registry in Greenville.

Some suggestions have been made to the City Council, such as designating a person to represent local rental property owners and having a lease addendum for landlords to use if they wished. Each time, the council ruled against a registry due to concerns the city did not have the money or manpower to make it happen.

Following a 5-1 vote by the council in December to reconsider a registry, City Manager Barbara Lipscomb appointed several staff members to prepare a report on the development of a rental registry program.

Staff representatives from the community development, information technology, police and public works departments met on Dec. 21 to begin identifying the process and collecting data for the creation of a pilot rental registry program.

City Attorney Dave Holec provided information on the legal requirements for rental registry programs in the state. By law, the city can require fees, permits and inspections of rental homes that have three or more housing code violations within a 12-month period or are within the top 10 percent of local crime and disorder.

Representatives from the various departments also identified the data being collected by existing software systems that track calls of service and minimum housing violations. The task force held initial discussions on staffing resources and infrastructure needs for implementation of a program for a limited geographic area and city-wide.

Based upon the initial assessment, Lipscomb said it was determined that data required for a registry program is being collected by two systems.

Code enforcement uses the Mobile 311 system to track city code and minimum housing violations, and the police department tracks calls for service with the New World Records Management Service.

“The current database programs are independent, non-integrated systems,” Lipscomb said. “As a result, the collection of addresses with three or more violations will require some manual tabulation and matching to identify a list of properties that would be placed on any type of rental registry program.”

Lipscomb said addresses from the Mobile 311 and New World systems must be matched manually to some degree with Pitt County tax records, and an automated system will be needed if a program is implemented. For example, violations entered into the Mobile 311 system since inception citywide accounted for a little more than 10,000 locations.

“In order to determine the number of addresses with three or more violations, a manual sifting of the data is required,” Lipscomb said. “The number of locations entered in the Mobile 311 program alone is significant and will involve considerable data analysis.”

Conservatively, Lipscomb estimated that it would take approximately six months to complete the data collection, analysis, evaluation of staff and program resources, along with ordinance and operational procedure development.

She said development of an ordinance with a survey of other cities that have implemented a rental registry program will take approximately 60 days.

The police department will need 30-45 days to fully evaluate its needs in this area.

Contact Wesley Brown at 252-329-9579 or wbrown@reflector.com. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.


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