Moraine amends nuisance law to combat crime at rental properties

The measure is aimed at helping address a wider array of health and safety issues.

Moraine City Council is working to eliminate certain crimes by amending its existing property maintenance and nuisance abatement law.

The measure was approved by city council last month and went into effect this month. It seeks to address a wider array of health and safety related issues, including criminal conduct such as continued drug-related offenses, prostitution and gambling.

“When we speak of property-related nuisance abatement issues, one would typically think of rodents, abandoned junk cars, structurally unsafe buildings and other hazardous conditions,” Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson told this news outlet. “What has not previously been addressed is the health, safety and quality of life issues that become prevalent when ongoing criminal conduct repeatedly occurs on a nearby property. This ordinance addresses those situations.”

Richardson said that Martina Dillon, the city’s law director, modeled Moraine’s legislation after ordinances already in place in Dayton, Fairborn and Kettering.

“In Dayton, say they take three drug trafficking calls where people are arrested and they’re serving search warrants at a specific rental property and the owner isn’t addressing the issues,” he told city council members during a recent meeting. “It is a definite health and safety issue for the neighbors around them that all this drug traffic or related criminal traffic is in their immediate area with their children (around) and around their homes.”

Richardson said a recent example of such activity in Moraine came at a home on Dixie Highway that had been converted to a rental property. In that case, the owner of the home lived out of state, Richardson said.

“His local agent was the one that was inviting the drug dealers in and drug trafficking (himself),” he said. Police responded to the site about a dozen times in 18 months, towing stolen vehicles from the driveway on multiple occasions and discovering hypodermic needles in the neighbors’ flower beds.

“The guy was just a thorn in our side,” Richardson said. “The level of calls for service was a drain on resources.”

He said a proposed amended nuisance law would have been “handy to have” in dealing with past issues because it forces a property owner to take action to get the criminal element out of a location. If a property owner does not heed the order within 30 days, they can be required to have the property vacated for up to 365 days, Richardson said.

Richardson, who said the new ordinance will have “a direct positive impact” for Moraine, said the city has come to realize that there are many times when a property owner may be unaware or unable to address certain issues at a property they own.

“These issues generally occur at a property they are leasing out or don’t have direct control over for some reason,” he said. “Moraine residents, businesses and workers will benefit from an ordinance which allows the city to work directly with residential and commercial property owners in order to make their property and the surrounding environment safer.”

Council member Randy Daugherty said the measure is “sure needed.”

“There’s probably not a community throughout the (area) that doesn’t have a house that fits that bill, that they just can’t seem to get anything done with,” Daugherty said.

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