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Hoisington to require new rental licensing program

HOISINGTON — The Hoisington City Council has approved a new ordinance requiring rental properties be properly maintained  and inspected. The purpose is to protect both renters and homeowners, protect the value of land and dwellings throughout the city, and to protect the public from increased criminal activity that tends to occur in residential areas that are unstable due to blight.
The city estimates that there are 300-400 rental properties in the community. The city would like to have all of them inspected before the end of the year, both inside and outside. The owner of every property must obtain a license or make application for a license to rent housing in Hoisington.
“The goal is not to be intrusive or demanding, but to have our houses be nice houses,” said Don Doerschlag, code enforcement officer.
The new guidelines include properly functioning plumbing, adequate heating, minimum standards for light and ventilation and codes to prevent overcrowding, among others. The guidelines will also require that the exterior not have excessive weeds, junk or rubbish in the yard.
The licenses expire each Dec. 31. The owner must make written application to the code enforcement officer or designee for a license on each dwelling.
The annual license will be subject to a fee, although there is no cost this year. Those properties that need reinspected will be subject to a $50 fee for the second and each subsequent inspection.
The owner will have 10 days to correct  the defects after failing to meet licensing standards. The owner can appeal the decision.
Also, any entity that rents a dwelling without a license will be guilty of a misdemeanor and be fined $100 to $1,000.
“I think most of our landlords are very responsible,” said Jonathan Mitchell, Hoisington city manager.
Property rental owner Tigie Stephens, who was present at the meeting, said, “It’s a good thing. It will make the community better. Everything is a two-way street.”
The code does not apply to hotels, motels, residences in conjunction with religious organizations, licensed nursing homes or assisted living center, hospitals or properties operated by the public housing authority.
Refusal to comply with the standards will results in the denial or suspension of a license.
The standards required are the International Property Maintenance Code and the codes of Hoisington.