Enforce the rules

An ordinance establishing minimum standards for rental housing in New Albany finally is on the books after nearly two years of on-again, off-again discussion by the Board of Aldermen.

The ordinance sets standards for habitation of rental housing and gives the city code enforcement officer 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.
The ordinance was approved Tuesday on a 4-1 vote. We are disappointed that Ward 3 Alderman Tommie Beasley did not support the proposal.
Opposition to the minimum standards had come from a small group of landlords, some of whom have shabby rentals that will need work to meet the standards.
Because New Albany has had no minimum rental standards, we have a higher percentage of low cost and low-quality rentals than many communities in the state. Low-quality rentals lead to declining property values, blighted neighborhoods and a decline in the tax base.
We are confident that New Albany residents are overwhelmingly in support of the new ordinance. But the ordinance, like all of New Albany’s regulations, is only as good as the enforcement. In the past, the city has had a spotty record, at best.
It’s time to raise our expectations with our standards. We need aggressive enforcement of our ordinances to get our neighborhoods cleaned up and our quality of life improved.
The code enforcement officer has a lot to do.