Lisbon councilman refines inspection plan

LISBON — Village Council’s continuing efforts to come up with some sort of landlord registration/rental inspection program appears to be losing steam with each passing meeting.

At this week’s meeting, Councilman Ryan Berg introduced a final version of proposed legislation that does not have the rental registration component contained in his original version. Berg said he removed the provision because he believes the village has other more pressing issues that need addressed.

“We have a revolving door at the police department, and the streets need patched, so I don’t think we need a registration program at this moment,” he said.

Berg does not believe the minimal registration fee would have generated enough money to hire someone to handle the paperwork that would be required, and the limited staff at village hall already has plenty to do.

The two other major component of his legislation would remain intact: incorporating into village code the section of state law regarding landlord and tenant rights, and giving the fire department the authority to inspect rental properties for possible safety violations, but only if a complaint is filed by the tenant or landlord and the landlord gives his permission. Without that permission, the fire department would have to obtain a court order to perform the inspection.

“At this point I can’t see getting into registration just yet, but this gives us something to start with,” Berg said.

Council decided to hold off voting on the proposed legislation until its June 25 meeting to give fire Chief Paul Gresh Jr. and the fire department a chance to review its role in performing requested inspections.

Berg came up with his version of a landlord registration/rental inspection plan after Councilman Peter Wilson’s plan for a mandatory registration and inspection program was rejected by his colleagues. Wilson continued to lobby council for a more aggressive registration and inspection program to hold landlords accountable. He said with Berg’s version “we’re admitting before it passes we can’t enforce it … Like I said, this is a step in the right direction, but a very small one.”

Berg is willing to revisit the registration requirement but believes his legislation is a good first step. “This is a step back, but this allows us to get a policy in place and then we can see what we need as we go forward,” he said.