Thursday, the Ludington Building and Licensing Committee held an open meeting to discuss a proposed rental inspection ordinance. Around 150 tenants and landlords filled the room to express their concerns. The ordinance as drafted would require landlords to pay fees of $105 per unit every 3 years in order to fund inspections ensuring that living spaces are healthy, safe, and overall livable. During open comment, the public bombarded the committee with overwhelming support against the proposal. The ordinance was heavily criticized, being called unfair, unlawful, and even "un-American".
Landlords and tenants are apprehensive about a "snowball effect" that could raise city-wide rents and force tenants to look for housing elsewhere. The overall landlord concern was that this ordinance is unfair to those already doing their jobs well; many called for a reformed program that would only target the few "bad" owners in the city. Some suggested a complaint hotline so that tenants could inform the city of housing problems directly without going through landlords.
Property owner Melissa Reed expressed some major troubles with the legislation including excessive fees, and vague inspection guidelines. While landlords are obviously concerned about the fees, they're also worried about renters being able to afford places to live.
I spoke briefly with City Manager John Shay about the committee's plans for the program; Shay assures the public that "profit is not the intent," and that the main purpose of such an ordinance is to make sure renters have safe places to live while simultaneously incentivizing good owners to stay good and bad owners to change.
The public called for a redraft of the ordinance to be written with the help of local landlords and renters. The current committee consists of neither. The meeting concluded with a decision to reassemble at an undetermined later date to further discuss the ordinance. If you're interested in attending the follow-up meeting, the date and time will be released on the city's facebook as well as here on WMOM.