Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
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NPR council could revive rental inspection proposal

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With half of New Port Richey’s homes now rentals, city officials might revive a proposal for a rental inspection program to discourage negligent landlords and tenants.

Pasco County Development Manager George Romagnoli, a New Port Richey resident, recommended the idea during public comments at the Tuesday night city council meeting.

“I’m concerned that the city now has the greatest concentration of a housing in Pasco County,” Romagnolisaid. “More than half the population is now rental.”

Romagnoli had first suggested some kind of rental inspection program about two years ago, but the idea was shelved.

“I think it’s an idea that needs to come back,” Romagnoli said Tuesday, especially since a city manager has been hired.

“Redevelopment for the downtown is important,” Romagnoli commented. “Redevelopment of our neighborhoods is just as important.”

Council members last year passed ordinances beefing up code enforcement powers and placing restrictions on sites that become chronic nuisances, Romagnoli pointed out. The city got a grant through the county for demolition of condemned structures.

Romagnoli, however, believes a proactive approach with rental inspections might head off some problems before they fester into chronic nuisances. Many landlords and renters are conscientious and keep up appearances of properties, but a minority of landlords and tenants let homes deteriorate.

The Shamrock Heights subdivision provides a warning example, Romagnolisaid. The county is planning to rehabilitate the older neighborhood along the Trouble Creek Road corridor just south of the city limits.

Its rental population is 78 percent, Romagnoli said of Shamrock Heights. County officials are looking at buying properties and fixing them up. But even then houses would sell only in the price range of $40,000 to $50,000, Romagnoli said.

“We can’t even talk about building new homes out there like we’ve done in other” projects, Romagnoli said, because the neighborhood has declined so much. I don’t want that to happen in my city, my home.”

Romagnoli asked the council to schedule the issue on an agenda of a meeting in the near future.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Rob Marlowe and Councilman Jeff Starkey both expressed support to discuss rental inspections again.

“I’ve been saying up here for a year” about how some landlords don’t take care of properties, Starkey remarked.

The city has some good landlords and some bad, Marlowe said. The 50 percent rental threshold for New Port Richey homes concerns the mayor. “That’s a lot,” he said.

corth@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1068

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