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Recent ordinance regulates landlords

Two ordinances recently passed by the Bowling Green city council may effect the number of off-campus parties.

Codified ordinances 7239 and 7240 were passed at the June 7 city council meeting. Both ordinances will take affect within 30 days.

Ordinance 7239 deals with nuisance party regulations. A nuisance party is defined essentially as a social gathering that has one or more of the following: disorderly conduct, public urination, sale or furnishing of beer or liquor to an underage person, property damage without permission of the property owner, unlawfully loud noise, or any other conduct considered a public nuisance.

Anyone cited for the aforementioned offense is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. Under the new ordinance, anyone who gets two offenses in six months will be guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor. Any residence that has an occupant convicted of two nuisance party violations within six months will be considered a nuisance property.

Originally, the time frame under which a property would be deemed a nuisance was going to be 18 months. According to Matt Rieger, city prosecutor, six months seemed more fair.

“I believed it was unfair to hold someone accountable for something 18 months ago,” Rieger said. “If you rent to a group of people who have a lot of parties, then the next year you rent to someone who hardly parties at all but has one party, it seems kind of unfair to punish them.”

Mike Zickar, Ward 2 city councilperson, agreed, saying that the six month time frame for two violations is like other ordinances.

“If you get another violation within six months, then the penalties will increase a little more,” Zickar said. “I just think there were concerns that (18 months) was too long of a time.”

The new ordinances will effect all Bowling Green residents, not just tenants. Ordinance 7240 deals with nuisance properties, and calls for landlords to prevent their properties from falling under this category.

The landlord will be put on notice after the first conviction. Once a second conviction occurs, the landlord will be required to take further action.

“The landlord receives a certified letter to set up a remediation plan to deal with the nuisance,” Rieger said. “If the landlord complies, there’s no citation.”

Some reasonable corrective measures include meeting with neighbors to address concerns, an addition to the lease agreement subjecting the tenant to eviction upon another conviction, or a written agreement from the landlord ensuring patrol of the residence. Any landlords who fail to follow or construct a plan could get a $500 fine.

“As long as there’s good faith effort made by the landlords, there’ll be no fine,” Zickar said. “Most of the landlords in town are doing things this ordinance requires people to do.”

City officials have received plenty reaction in regards to the new ordinances. Although there has not been much communication from students, many citizens and landlords have voiced their opinions.

While citizens have shown support for the most part, landlords have brought up concerns regarding the nuisance property ordinance. Zickar described reasons why some landlords are opposed to the ordinance.

“I think some people feel like we’re blaming them for problems when some people think we should be focusing on the tenants,” Zickar said. “The question is, ‘why do we have another ordinance?’ The perception is some ordinances we have aren’t really enforced.”

Rieger echoed Zickar’s statement on the opposition from landlords. He said that although landlords have questioned the ordinance, he thinks they will be compliant once the nuisance property ordinance takes effect.

“They voiced out loud that it’s unfair for them to be held responsible for the actions of the tenants,” Rieger said. “But I fully expect them to cooperate. The majority of the landlords in Bowling Green are respectful to the law.”

The idea for both ordinances originated when Rieger received concerns from the Bowling Green Police Department about parties . He was then in charge of finding an answer to the problem. After reviewing nuisance party ordinances from several Ohio college towns, Rieger decided to model his solution after that of Miami University in Oxford.

The purpose of the new ordinances is to increase communication between landlords, tenants, and residents, according to city officials. The city will be taking further steps to reach this goal, including a “welcome wagon program” in the fall. Residents will walk door-to-door offering information and greeting renters during this week.

“That’ll help increase communication between students, renters, and permanent residents,” Zickar said. “It’ll give the students more of a sense of neighborhood.”

Rieger agreed that getting to know neighbors is an important step in achieving a strong relationship amongst everyone. He said he thinks the new ordinances will encourage people to work with their neighbors.

“I think what it does is it brings everyone to the table,” Rieger said. “This type of legislation doesn’t need to happen if everyone gets to know their neighbors.”

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