Council Mulls Code Ordinance Update

New Castle News

New Castle city council introduced an ordinance to update rental property regulations and eliminate blight within the city during last week’s meeting.

The proposed ordinance includes adoption of the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code. The ordinance would establish minimum requirements for the maintenance of existing buildings.

Code department supervisor Patrick McGuire said the code is updated every three years. “Our last ordinance update was 2009 so this is a jump for us,” he told city council at its workshop session last Tuesday.

McGuire is also the city health officer.

In addition to setting minimum standards, he said, the ordinance changes, customizes the property maintenance code to meet the city’s needs, allowing it to set fees and regulations governing, for example, when heat must be turned on.

It also addresses rental property registration and inspections and vacant property registration.

Under the updated ordinance, rental property must be registered with the city every year. This includes all rent-to-own and lease with an option to purchase properties, McGuire said.

“If there is no record (of sale) at the Recorder of Deeds office, if there is no transfer of title, it is considered rental property,” McGuire said.

McGuire said there are advantages to annual inspections. “We will get to know properties, the owners and tenants,” he said. “This could raise the efficiency of the code department.

The ordinance also requires that all property managers or responsible local agents must reside in Lawrence County so they may respond to complaints and problems quickly. McGuire said all fee schedules have been reset to accommodate the new structure  and amended inspections.

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