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Getting and Keeping Rentals in Good Condition Through Tougher Housing Codes

Feb 12, 2024

Cleveland City Council recently approved an overhaul of city housing laws in an effort to get a handle on unresponsive or unreachable property investors. 

Among the changes is a requirement that faraway landlords designate a local agent to be on the hook for their properties and is legally responsible for the condition of the property, just like the owner. 

After making numerous amendments, the package of legislation Council approved changes for how the city deals with rental properties under the Department of Building and Housing. The changes are impactful and extensive for all non-owner-occupied units (rentals). 

The legislation also revamps and tightens the city’s Rental Registry, requiring  all non-owner-occupied units to be registered with the city. The registration requires HVAC certification, Lead Safe certification, be up-to-date on property taxes and it grants authority to revoke the registration for noncompliance. 

Cleveland will also set up what is essentially an exterior point-of-sale inspection system for vacant buildings. Owners must register their vacant buildings with the city, which will inspect them within a year of a sale. The buyer of a vacant building will be responsible for fixing code violations within six months. 

The exterior point-of-sale rules will take effect in six months. They’ll expire in two years unless council chooses to renew them. Council added that sunset clause to force the city to evaluate the program after giving it a two-year test run. 

The legislation revamps enforcement for owners of nuisance properties, including creating  “civil tickets” that allows for the issuance of a $200 fine per infraction, for such things as infestation of pests, graffiti, rubbish and garbage issues. Owners with hardships may appeal tickets within 30 days.

Finally, the legislation also adds regular inspection of parking garages in the city. Ord. No. 1039-2023