Registration will likely lead off BG rental regs

A Bowling Green Council committee on Monday decided to move ahead with a portion of an ordinance
regulating rental properties in the city.
The Community Improvement Committee voted on a series of changes to the part of the ordinance dealing
with rental property registration, with the possibility that it could soon come before council.
“The point is that we get this going,” said Councilman Bill Herald.
Tackling the question of rental licensing, registration and inspection has been an issue of interest for
council for a number of years. In January 2020, the committee was tasked with investigating the topic of
rental properties in the city and determining if there was a need for licensing, registration and
inspections. The committee held a total of seven meetings, receiving what was termed as “extensive”
public input at five of them, and submitted a report with recommendations to the larger council in early
April. However, by that time the coronavirus pandemic had taken hold and further work on the issue was
postponed.
In November, a special meeting was held to review the previous work and determine next steps.
“The process has been fairly dormant until tonight,” committee chair John Zanfardino said as he recounted
the work done up to this point. “So I’m happy to be resuming this issue.”
He noted that during the November meeting, council recognized “this is an issue that interests a lot of
stakeholders in town and we felt that when we did resume with the process that we would first talk about
the easiest aspect of this to address, which is creating a rental registration system, a rental
registry. And that’s the chief reason for this meeting tonight, is to look at this aspect of the coming
legislation.”
“I appreciate the work that each of you have done, and (the late councilman Neocles Leontis) did, to get
us to this point,” said committee member Jeff Dennis, “along with the various people who have worked on
this issue over the last four to five decades. I’m happy that we are looking at some pieces of
legislation here that, I think, will begin to address the problem.”
In describing the registration portion of the proposed legislation, Zanfardino noted that landlords
owning rental property within the city would be required to register each individual unit. They would
have nine months from the implementation of the ordinance to accomplish this.
“The additional aspects of the ordinance are if a landlord lives beyond 35 miles away from Bowling Green,
that landlord would be expected to have a manager within 35 miles and, of course, hopefully that would
be available and much closer,” Zanfardino said.
Also, if there are any changes in the ownership of the property, that property must be reregistered.
Herald asked for some additions to the legislation, including definitions of bedroom and landlord, as
well as the inclusion of portions of 153.03 of the city’s ordinances, which concern landlord exemptions
under the city’s fair housing ordinance.
Dennis asked why the entire ordinance, which would also encompass rental licensing and inspection, wasn’t
being considered. Herald noted previous discussions and decisions made by council on the subject.
“It was (Council President Mark Hollenbaugh) who was talking about the pandemic and felt that we should
separate this out and do the registration separate and then look at the more controversial aspects,”
Zanfardino said.
“And he and I spoke about that again this weekend. And, in my perfect world we would act on this sooner
than later,” he said, adding that the plan would be that after the registry portion would pass, “that we
would begin to tackle the more controversial issues sooner than later.”
While Dennis said his preference would be to combine and consider the entire ordinance at once, “it seems
that decision’s already been made, so whatever additions Bill feels need to be added here, the
clarification’s always appreciated.”
Herald made a motion for the inclusion of his suggestions, which passed unanimously.
“I would prefer to be looking at the entire chapter myself,” said Zanfardino, “but I understand the times
we’re in and the possible gain of getting this going.”
During the council meeting which followed, additional meetings to discuss the ordinance were scheduled
for April.