COVINGTON, Ky. - The new year will bring a new push in Covington to reduce blight, and improve the look and safety of rental property in the city.
That's when a new rental licensing and inspection program will begin through Covington's Community Services Department.
Starting Jan. 15, 2013, all owners of rental property in Covington will be required to get a rental license from the city. The free license will not replace the standard occupational license owners of rental property are already required to possess.
The program was approved by the Covington City Commission on Tuesday evening.
Blight has become a major problem in Covington and with rentals making up more than 50 percent of the city's housing stock, city officials decided it was an issue that had to be addressed immediately.
"We're dealing with a lot of different issues and a lot of vacant properties," Covington's Community Services Manager Mike Yeager said. "It's just people are not really taking care of the properties to the level that we expect or would want to have happen."
In addition to the new rental licenses, the city is also implementing a new rental inspection program. An inspection will only be needed after a complaint has been received.
The Community Services Department could trigger its own inspection if it sees broken or busted windows, damaged roofs or gutters, crumbling exterior walls or steps at a rental property. Grass or weeds in excess of 10 inches tall could also lead to an inspection.
"There are triggering events," Yeager said. "So if they have issues on the outside their property that happen and we find a violation that will give our city and our inspectors the right to get inside and inspect the inside of the building as well."
The rental inspection fee for Covington starts at $30 per unit. It is capped at $100 per rental dwelling or $500 per landlord each year.
9 News spoke with several Covington landlords who said they have their doubts about whether the new license and inspection programs will reduce blight in the community. Some of property owners believe the moves by the city are just another way for Covington to make money from landlords.
However, Covington is pledging to help landlords better screen tenants to prevent future problems. The city is going to create a database in 2013 to track evictions throughout Northern Kentucky. Landlords will have online access to that database when it becomes available.
In addition, Covington is planning an aggressive demolition program for next year.
"We've got properties in the city that need to come down," Yeager said. "So we've got a demolition contract coming out that's about 50 to 52 properties. Some of those are city owned and some of them are privately owned. We're going to try to make a big splash and get those buildings down."
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