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(March 11, 2019)

Mayor Jean Stothert asked the Omaha City Council to find common ground in landlord registry and inspection proposals and pass an ordinance that is practical, enforceable and affordable.

The City Council is considering three ordinances that would create a registry and inspection program, including one proposal from Mayor Stothert. Councilman Brinker Harding also submitted a proposal, Council President Ben Gray and Councilman Chris Jerram submitted the third.

In testimony before the Council Tuesday, Mayor Stothert said, “My hope is that we can work together to approve a mutually agreed upon ordinance that will focus on the landlords who are bad actors,  and not burden the good actors with unnecessary regulation, inspections and increased cost.” 

The proposals submitted by Mayor Stothert and Councilman Harding both create a mandatory, free registration for all landlords. The third proposal recommends an annual registration fee ranging from $6.00 to $50.00 per unit.

“I consider a fee to register rental properties a tax, and I will not support a new tax,” said Mayor Stothert.

All three proposals include a property inspection program. Mayor Stothert’s ordinance includes the following requirements for inspections:

  • Only rental properties with unresolved code violations dating back 3 years after an ordinance is passed would be subject to annual inspections.
  • Rental properties without code violations would receive a 3-year exemption from inspections. After the initial 3 years, the properties would be subject to inspections every 3 years.
  • After 2 years without a code violation, rental properties on the annual inspection list can qualify for the 3-year inspection cycle if the landlord completes a property ownership education course.
  • Landlords would pay a $125 annual inspection fee, a $125 re-inspection fee if required due to a code violation, and $125 if a property owner/manager is not present for a scheduled inspection.
  • The following would be exempt from inspections: rental properties owned or managed by the Omaha Housing Authority, properties rented under a voucher or other assistance program under Section 8 of the federal Housing Act, properties rented under the federal low-income housing tax credit program, or rental properties built within the last 5 years.

“I would estimate that 98% of our landlords operate safe, clean, and code compliant rental units. We need to be focusing on the non-compliant 2%,” said Mayor Stothert. “We should not waste taxpayer dollars inspecting units that do not have unresolved code complaints.”

Mayor Stothert also supports a mandatory education program for landlords and tenants.

“After the actions at Yale Park last fall, we agreed to work together with our Planning Department and housing inspection team to study best practices, and to find the right solution to improve the safety of rental housing,” said Mayor Stothert. “We have all received input from landlords, tenants, advocacy groups and citizens. We have considered their opinions, and now it is up to us to act. This is our responsibility.”

After listening to nearly four hours of public testimony, the City Council is expected to layover the vote to develop a compromise ordinance, which could take several weeks.

PROPOSED ORDINANCES:

Mayor Stothert Proposal:  https://cityclerk.cityofomaha.org/images/agenda/ID_19_03_12/41767.pdf

Councilman Harding Proposal: https://cityclerk.cityofomaha.org/images/agenda/ID_19_03_12/41766.pdf

Councilman Gray/Jerram Proposal: https://cityclerk.cityofomaha.org/images/agenda/ID_19_03_12/41765.pdf

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