A new ordinance in Saginaw will require renters to pledge to keep their homes free of crime and puts landlords on the hook for making sure tenants obey the rules.
The ordinance, dubbed the “crime-free lease addendum,” was approved on April 20, The Saginaw News reported. It will require renters to agree that neither they nor their guests will “engage in criminal activity.” Violations could mean eviction.
Landlords could face fines of $300 to $500 for violations. Councilman Demond Tibbs, an assistant Saginaw County prosecutor, led work on the ordinance and said it is a tool for city government to use to help make neighborhoods a better place to live.
“I think that’s how it should be looked at,” he said.
Mark Oberschmidt, a city resident and landlord, was the only person to speak against the proposal, calling it an unnecessarily complicated ordinance that would unfairly penalize landlords and be impossible to adequately enforce.
“I’m not here because this will affect me,” Oberschmidt said. “It simply makes doing business more complicated and expensive. We are going down a slippery slope when you try to fine someone for someone else’s behavior.”
The ordinance takes effect April 30. It sets up rules for “quality of life violations” such as drug-related activity, criminal gang activity, assault or malicious destruction of property, within a one-year period. Landlords who don’t work to evict repeat offenders could face fines.
Those in support of the ordinance included several representatives from Saginaw neighborhood associations and at least one landlord. Deanna Virciglio said those groups have worked for years to implement ways to hold renters and their landlords accountable.
“This ordinance will increase Saginaw property values, encourage responsible tenant behavior, it will be a tool for code enforcement, rental property maintenance and eviction, if needed,” Virciglio said.
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