Executive Tom Gordon told a recent meeting of umbrella civic
organization officers that he will veto any measure which
imposes a significant burden on the county code enforcement
system without providing a source of revenue to pay for the
Lossť, president of the Claymont Community Coalition, raised the
question of financing at a meeting of the committee on Mar. 20
as the group reviewed a working draft of possible legislation.
It would require all owners of rental residential property to
register, but has dropped the idea of charging a registration
fee, which had been included in an earlier draft. It does
provide fines for violations of safety and health standards,
with a steep escalation for repeat offenders.
that mean that inspectors are going out there to find violations
[in order] to finance the program?" Lossť asked.
replied that the basic purpose of the inspections provided for
in the proposed law is "to generate compliance, not raise
something is important, it's worth doing even though it might
not fully pay for itself," he added. "If we agree we need
[better] enforcement, we're going to have to be willing to pay
make sure we come up with something we can enforce," said
Charles Baker, general manager of the county Department of Land
would apply to unincorporated areas of New Castle County. The
cities of Wilmington and Newark have rental codes.
point, no one knows how many rentals units there are in the
county. The Delaware Apartment Association counts 35,000 to
in identifiable apartment buildings and complexes. It is
believed there could be many more in subdivided houses
and dwellings being rented on a temporary basis.
proposed ordinance has three components:
Mandatory registration, which would provide an official data
bank to include the identities of owners and, whenever an owner
is not a local resident, the name of a contact person who would
be available at any time to respond in the event of an
Tenant education built around a guide to tenants' rights that
landlords would be required to distribute to anyone with whom
they established a 'rental relationship', whether by executing a
formal lease or by a personal agreement; and
Property inspections conducted whenever there is a complaint and
on a random basis without complaints with their frequency
determined by owners' violations and complaint histories.
Discussion at the meetings centered on how such an ordinance
would work in actual practice.
Peuquet, of the University of Delaware, said that registration
would not prove onerous. It could be done en bloc and annual
renewals would be simply a matter of reporting changes that have
occurred. Not charging a registration fee but levying fines
against anyone who doesn't register will have the effect of
encouraging compliance by owners of a small number of units.
obvious problem of finding those who do not register and
therefore are unknown is at least partly addressed by following
up on complaints.
many good landlords in New Castle County. They shouldn't be
penalized for the bad ones. The emphasis should be placed on the
landlords who are not good landlords," Peuquet said.
Morton, general counsel for the Apartment Owners Association,
said the purpose of the educational guide is to assure that
tenants, and particularly less-sophisticated tenants, understand
what they are entitled to receive in the way of safe and
healthful living conditions and to advise them of whom to
contact in the event of problems.