Improving rentals

 An important issue that could significantly improve the look of New Albany and its neighborhoods is about to come before the Board of Aldermen. 

We’re referring to the proposal to establish minimum standards for rental housing. The proposal will be the subject of a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The rental housing ordinance would give the city building inspector the authority to prevent rental units from being occupied if the minimum standards were not met.

The standards are minimal: water, a toilet, sink, bathtub or shower, heat and ventilation, electrical, protection from weather and the like. In other words, there the kind of things you and I would expect as a minimum in a place where we were going to live.

The proposal has been brought before the board by Alderman Scott Dunham, who, as a builder and a person who rehabilitates homes, knows what rental properties ought to be like. We commend him for raising the issue.

What is troubling is that a number of people have told us that some landlords in the community are going to oppose it. Frankly, we don’t understand how any community-minded person could be against it.

A drive through our neighborhoods shows immediately how important it is to adopt minimum standards for rentals. The failure to do so years ago has contributed to some areas becoming blighted.

We think the community should watch carefully to see who opposes this proposal and why. Would those who oppose it be willing to move their families into these rentals?

The City of New Albany faces a real decision about what kind of place we want to be and what kind of image we want to present. We have said before the city needs a very forceful clean-up, fix-up campaign. 

Requiring rentals to be truly habitable is a start.