LIMA — After the third meeting of Lima City Council’s Community and Economic Development committee scheduled to consider a potential rental licensing or registry program, not much headway has been made on policy details as councilors fail to agree on anything except for one conclusion — there’s a housing problem in Lima.
“My thought process is the housing stock in Lima is suffering badly. Property values are not what we would like them to be, and safety and security is an issue for many of our residents,” Committee Chair Carla Thompson offered early on Monday’s working session.
For the third time, Thompson ran through the moving parts of what she said has added to that problem — the use of month-to-month leases, lack of oversight on business rentals and overall blight. But as conversations proceeded, the working session continued to sidetrack.
Councilor Rebecca Kreher expressed concerns that the initial idea of a licensing or registry was to pit renters versus landlords, and the conversations have been “kind of muddy” up to that point.
“I think that’s a projection from the outside,” Thompson said. “We have good landlords and good renters and everything in between, but the fact is that this is a large business that has zero oversight.”
After a brief conversation between the two, Kreher redefined the particular problem as “lack of support for people who are at risk for eviction if a complaint is filed.” The idea gained ground with both Councilors Derry Glenn and Jamie Dixon. Both councilors recounted horror stories told to them by tenants about landlords who had no qualms about keeping tenants in deplorable conditions, such as leaving black mold in walls, failing to fix basic bathroom plumbing and evicting long-time elderly tenants without reason.
Councilor Jon Neeper agreed that council needs to take some action to address Lima’s housing problems, but he disagreed with instituting a licensing or registry program.
“We’re going from zero to 1,000, and we’re going to do that in one step,” Neeper said. “The landlords that I’ve talked to are good landlords, and they’re already in the process of selling their properties off.”
Councilor Sam McLean pushed to better review city code enforcement rules currently on the books. In earlier meetings, councilors said they would look through the code, but McLean pushed for a more comprehensive line-by-line review to find out how current policy could potentially be stretched to address housing issues.
“That’s the first step. Once we’ve gone through that, we’ll know what is and what’s not in it,” McLean said.
Council members agreed to meet during a lengthy review session of current code enforcement policy to be scheduled sometime in the next few weeks.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.