Riverside cracks down on unregistered rental properties

Higher costs, more code violations prompt city to act.

The city of Riverside has identified 730 addresses that it believes are unregistered rental properties contributing to an increase in code violations and costs.

The properties accrued 1,046 code violations in the past two years — almost double the amount of violations cited at registered rentals, according to city data.

Those violations, primarily related to exterior maintenance issues, are costing the city thousands of dollars. Riverside spent $34,282 in nuisance abatement in 2012 and $33,794 in 2013, Bryan Chodkowski, city manager, said

A “nuisance,” as defined by the Codified Ordinances of Riverside, might be a dilapidated structure, a fire hazard or uncut grass.

“We incur cost to abate … I may sticker 100 owner-occupied properties for high grass and 99/100 will cut it,” Chodkowski said. The problem begins when the city has to pick up the slack for non-compliant residents.

Chodkowski said he began crunching numbers when staff noticed that the majority of recurrent abatement issues were taking place on properties they knew to be non owner-occupied.

Chodkowski has not yet done the math to prove that rental properties, registered or not, cost the city more money than owner-occupied properties. However, he said “institutional knowledge” suggests that.

The trend to rehabilitate housing for the purpose of converting it to rental property has grown since the recession, Chodkowski said.

“We want to make sure that these properties are meeting appearance standards,” he said.

But Mayor Bill Flaute said his concerns go beyond aesthetics.

“My concern is the drug problem that we have here in Riverside. It’s huge and we need to find creative ways to combat it. We know where most of the drug houses are… we need to help landlords get rid of them,” said Flaute, who is also a landlord.

A drug arrest was made at a Dayton duplex owned by Flaute on Aug. 21. Flaute said neighbors tipped him off to what was happening at the property but when he tried to personally confront the tenant’s boyfriend, who was not resident of the property, he was accused of racial profiling.

On August 21st, police arrested 21 year old J’Lamar Allen at the property on a charge of drug possession.

Flaute owns about 20 units, most of them near the 500 block of Heiss Avenue in Dayton.

Riverside officials have forwarded a list of suspected rental properties to the Regional Income Tax Agency to verify that all appropriate taxes have been paid to the city.

Chodkowski said he does not know why residents have opted not to register their rental properties. Both the Ohio Revised Code and the Codified Ordinances of Riverside require all residential rental property to be registered with the county auditor’s office.

The next step, he said, will be to mail a letter asking them to either take action or provide evidence that the property is, in fact, owner-occupied.

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