By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
LUDINGTON — The Ludington City Council passed its controversial rental inspection ordinance Monday during its regular meeting with the stipulation that the ordinance be reviewed by council in one year. The vote was 5-2 with councilors Kaye Ferguson Holman and Les Johnson voting no. The ordinance will require landlords to register their properties and will allow the city to inspect the interior of rental properties.
Several people, including landlords, contractors, a tenant and real estate agents, addressed the council and spoke in opposition of the ordinance.
During public comment the council members were called arrogant and were called liars.They were also accused of violating the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.
Others suggested the city needs to focus more on enforcing its existing ordinances that allow the city to inspect the exteriors of properties and require properties in violation follow the city code. Several asked the council to send the ordinance back to committee, though the building and licenses committee has held several meetings on the topic.
The council also heard from property owners who are in favor of the ordinance.
City Attorney Richard Wilson addressed the issue of the alleged Fourth Amendment issue. He said those speaking were making reference to a U.S. District Court case in Ohio relating to the city of Portsmith. The issues that were deemed unconstitutional were in regards to the penalty mechanism of that city and the lack of an appeals process. He said the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals actually upheld a previous case regarding the city of Akron, whose ordinance was more similar to Ludington’s ordinance.
“It is time that the city of Ludington go forward with this ordinance,” Councilor Kathy Winczewski said.
Some of the highlighted items of the ordinance include:
– Registration of rental dwellings at a cost of $15 per unit.
– Ownership transfer fee of $10 per rental units.
– Re-registration every three years.
– Minimum standards for rental dwellings.
– Waiver of standards for rentals that are “grandfathered.”
– Certification of compliance.
– Inspection fees of $50 per unit.