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Rental fee will not fix the problem

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By The Staff

We will concede that rental property can be difficult to manage.There are good renters and bad renters — renters who wouldn’t think of letting their grass grow or piling up trash, and renters who really don’t care to do either. There are strict landlords, and those who would rather ignore their properties.In an effort to address some of these problems — and more to the point, steer clear of them — the city of Orchard Grass Hills recently voted to charge landlords a 1.25 percent fee on their rental income. The fee is in addition to the requirement that they purchase a business license for $100.Though the tax is intended to offset the cost of mowing lawns and following up on complaints that come from rental properties, we feel like it will cause more problems than create solutions.A number of things could happen:• Any landlord faced with paying an extra 1.25 percent of rental income will likely pass that along to the renter. Orchard Grass could be looking at more vacant properties, as rental prices will be higher. This isn’t what the city wants. It doesn’t necessarily make the city more attractive, nor is it friendly to a group of people who need a place to live. South Oldham needs rental options for those who can’t afford to buy a home. And in this weak economy, that number is growing.• People may still rent in Orchard Grass and pay higher prices, but they still may care nothing about mowing their yards or taking out their trash. Charging a fee doesn’t guarantee that the city is going to be cleaned up. It doesn’t guarantee the landlord is notified of problems. It only serves as a very small encouragement to the property owner to be more involved. Will that happen? Maybe, maybe not. If the fee is passed on to the renter, chances are that landlords are going to assume all is well unless they’re told otherwise.• Which leads to the final problem — a massive administrative headache. We hope the council is prepared for the work it takes to collect fees and enforce the new ordinance. It’s going to be difficult. Especially in Orchard Grass, where the number of rental properties is high.We urge the council to explore more creative solutions by researching what other cities of comparable size, with a comparable number of renters, do to battle this problem. Though any alternative will require a certain level of enforcement, many may be more effective than slapping landlords with an obscure fee.Money doesn’t fix everything.

The views expressed in this editorial are endorsed by the six members of The Oldham Era’s editorial board.