Cooperating On Rules for Rentals

Moundsville officials are right to be concerned about the safety and appearance of rental properties in the community. But their attitude of getting new rules right -rather than just in place – is appropriate if possibly not the norm in this day and age.

City Council is considering a package of new regulations for rental properties. Before voting on them Wednesday, council members heard from 23 people, most landlords or real estate agents, who pointed out various concerns about the plan.

One cumbersome part of the proposal was a stipulation that landlords could not allow new tenants to move into apartments or houses without obtaining occupancy permits. Such documents could not be issued by the city building inspector unless the place to be rented complies with all municipal code rules.

Obviously, that could require inspections that, unless done expeditiously, could prevent people in need of housing from moving into rental units.

After hearing criticism of the proposed new rules, council voted unanimously to reject the plan.

Mayor Dennis Wallace reiterated concerns about safety and appearance of rental units in Moundsville, adding he believes landlords can help draft an ordinance to address the problem.

No doubt they can. Council members should have consulted landlords before writing the first draft, but are to be commended for hearing their concerns and rejecting the measure. They should embrace the opportunity to work with landlords to make improvements.