Community Improvement Committee assesses need for BG rental inspections

Shaelee Haaf and Shaelee Haaf

The Community Improvement Committee aims to address ways in which the Bowling Green community can be improved. This year, CIC members Second Ward John Zanfardino, At-Large Neocles Leontis and Fourth Ward William Herald, are assessing the need for annual health and safety inspections of rental properties around Bowling Green.  

Leontis, Herald and Zanfardino will be submitting their proposals to city council on how these concerns should be addressed. The meeting will be livestreamed at 5:30 p.m. on April 6 on the City of Bowling Green’s YouTube channel

Every year, members of the Bowling Green City Council take on an additional role in one of seven sub-committees that handle different topics the city deals with on a regular basis. Members of each committee can decide what issues they would like to focus on.

At the first city council meeting of 2020, the CIC was charged by President Mark Hollenbaugh to do the following:

  1. Determine whether there is a need for rental registration, licensing and inspections.
  2. Identify problems with rental housing in BG that need to be addressed.
  3. Determine whether these problems are isolated to a particular type of rental property or are industry-wide.
  4. If rental registration, licensing and inspections are deemed necessary, to generate a checklist of items to be reported and/or inspected.
  5. Submit a committee study to Council by April 6, 2020. 

According to the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group, over 60 cities across Ohio have instilled rental registration, licensing and inspection ordinances of various kinds, which affect the health and safety of occupants. Although annual inspections are carried out for all hotels, public and commercial buildings, schools and common areas of large rental complexes, Bowling Green currently does not enforce these codes in residential properties. 

“Without a system in place, there’s no way of knowing the extent of these problems. There’s a lot of layers to this and there’s been a lot of diverse reactions. There’s probably good landlords in town that feel unnecessarily burdened by this, and there are probably people who are not interested in these kinds of programs,” Zanfardino said. 

In order to get a better understanding of the current situation and how they can go about handling it, the CIC has allowed a number of people including landlords, tenants, attorneys and fire department officials to speak at their meetings.

Five members of the Bowling Green Apartment Association were invited to a private meeting so the CIC could “have a discussion and understand their perspective,” Zanfardino said. However, the BGAA decided not to attend. Instead, one of the members wrote a letter stating their reasoning for being against further legislation.    

The CIC has also created a tenants survey to get a better idea of the issues tenants have dealt with in the past and problems they are dealing with currently, because they have only been permitted to inspect property exteriors. More information about the survey can be found here.

Zanfardino, chair of the CIC this year, has been on the committee for 16 years. Although these issues have been addressed in the past, he thought this year’s council is more progressive. 

“With the progressive council we have this year, something will get done. I don’t see how we can’t make progress at this point given the discussion we’ve had,” he said.