Editorial: Approve new housing rules

The city of Clearwater wants slumlords to clean up their properties. To do this, new rules have been created that would require all rental owners to apply for city licenses. This is a good idea and may help clean up poorly kept properties in the city. If the plan is successful, other cities and counties should adopt similar plans to help reduce the number of run-down properties in the bay area.

The Clearwater City Commission is expected to approve the new rules Thursday. The rules would not apply to hotels, motels or properties rented for short-term stays. However, people who own even just one condo, rental house or garage apartment would be subject to the rules along with owners of apartment and condominium complexes.

The rules are meant to eliminate loopholes in the present process that says neglected properties must be fixed. In the current system, slumlords are able to use loopholes to avoid fines or foreclosure on their property for years. Such loopholes allow properties to become rundown, and at times, residents of such places have little recourse.

Under the new rules, the city would be able to stop the property owners from taking new renters until the problems were fixed. Also, the new codes would allow the city to revoke the licenses from property owners, as well.

These rules will help put power in the hands of residents and force crooked property owners to maintain well-kept premises and buildings. Other counties and cities should look into this program. If it is successful and cost-effective, it could pave the way for cleaning up the multiplying slums found around the bay area.

Tampa, especially, could benefit from such a program, and further efforts to clean up the city’s neighborhoods and give tenets more power when landlords fail to maintain housing.