Batavia residential homes and apartments will need to pass regular inspections -- either every 36 months or at the time of sale -- according to a proposal being put forward by the city's Neighborhood Improvement Committee.
The proposed ordinance changes would create a Residential and Rental Occupancy Permit that would be required on all rental properties, with a three-year renewal cycle even when the home or apartment doesn't change occupants. The permit would also be required whenever a single-family home was sold.
"This is important for the city itself because everything seems to be deteriorating," said committee chairwoman Karen Valle. "The housing stock is old. Almost half, if not half of the housing stock is income property. A lot of us are property owners, myself included, who are sandwiched in between a lot of income property and we've gotten swallowed up by the constant rotation of tenants who don't care about where they live. They take no responsibility for their actions or the property in which they live, so it's making us lose value in our property."
Committee member Anne Baron added, "There are too many people who live in the community who do not have the community's best interest in mind. They treat (property) as nothing."
The proposed changes will give city officials greater authority to get into homes and inspect them for safety issues as well as compliance with a range of city building and occupancy codes.
Terry Platt, who owns many rental units in the city and serves on the committee said the proposed changes will help protect property values and ensure people are living in safe and clean neighborhoods.
Under the terms of the proposed codes, landlords will need to register their tenants with the city so that city officials know who is living at a particular residence, allowing the city to more easily hold tenants accountable for home maintenance issues that are solely their responsibility.
"At this point right now everything falls on the landlord." Valle said. "There's a lot of quality of life issues that should be addressed by tenants."
When things do need to be handled by a property owner, the committee wants to ensure a person responsible for the property is easy to reach and has the ability to deal with the issues. Under the terms of the proposed changes, any landlord who lives outside the area will be required to register an "agent of record" who lives in Genesee County and will assume responsibility for the property.
The proposed changes are being sent to City Attorney George Van Nest, who will formalize the language and submit it to City Manager Jason Molino for review. The committee hopes a vote on the proposed changes will come before the City Council before the end of the year.
City Council President Charlie Mallow said it's time for the city to crack down on property owners and tenants who don't take care of their dwellings. After years of dealing with budget issues and other problems in the city, it's time, he said, for the City Council to take action to help clean up the city. (Audio Statement)
Valle agreed and said it's important to help residents understand that they're more than just occupants in a building when they move into Batavia.
"There's no respect for neighbors," Valle said. "I keep telling tenants when they moved in next to me, you didn't move into a house. You moved into a neighborhood. You have to respect the people around you and you have to respect the neighborhood."