A standing room only crowd attended the rental ordinance public hearing on Monday, March 10.
A standing room only crowd attended the rental ordinance public hearing on Monday, March 10.
A standing room only crowd turned out for the Spring Valley City Council's rental ordinance public hearing held on Monday, March 10.

Mayor Jim Struzyk began the hearing by explaining the need for the rental ordinance.

"There are some bad rentals properties in town and we have to do something so we have the key to go after them and straighten this out," he told the crowd.

The proposed ordinance would require landlords to register though the city with mandatory inspections every two years unless a complaint is made. The inspections would carry a $25 fee per unit.

"The city itself would end up losing money, because the inspections cost more than that amount, but we want to make it easy on the renters," Struzyk noted.

Spring Valley resident Jon Kuehn summed up his feelings on the ordinance.

"For $25 you're probably saving us all money, because if there was ever an issue and the renter wanted to sue, the way I see it, it would be on your backs because I had the property inspected by you," he said. "It's something you better consider because you'd be the inspector now. For $25 it's a bargain. I want it!"

Several residents were not quite as optimistic and expressed frustration with current ordinances not being enforced.

Janelle Mosher-Rowe referenced properties around her home, which are not rentals, but are in disrepair with sidewalks not being fixed.

"If you are going to enforce us (landlords), then you need to enforce it for everybody," she urged. "We don't need any more ordinances if you are not going to enforce what is already on the books."

City administrator Deb Zimmer explained the city's junk ordinance would cover many of the issues mentioned in regards to private homeowners.

But, as Councilmember Bill Bires explained, they can only enforce what they can see from the sidewalk or street, as they cannot go on to private property to investigate.

Zimmer asks all Spring Valley residents to report any problems or issues they see to the council so the city can try to address them.

Area realtor Matt Fowler questioned the city's need for a rental ordinance.

"I think we have ordinances in place to do about three out of the five things here that we are not currently enforcing," he said. "And we could be enforcing them throughout the city not just on rentals."

Fowler also argued that renters are protected under Minnesota state law, so the city shouldn't have to take on the liability the ordinance may bring.

Though reactions were mixed, Ruth Franke told the council she feels it would be good for the town as a whole.

"I think the ordinance is a good idea because I want you to get rid of that," Franke said, referring to the pictures on display highlighting many of the problems, "I don't want that reputation for Spring Valley."

After thanking the crowd for attending and voicing their opinions Struzyk concluded the hearing. The council then discussed the issue during the regular council meeting (see related article).