Landlords put on notice to clean up problem properties

Landlords are being put on notice as part of Middletown’s efforts to clear out nuisance properties where crime and drug activity has occurred.

In the past several months, the city has sent about 100 letters to property owners where crime and drug activity have occurred, letting landlords know they could be responsible for the cost of public safety responses.

The letter also warns landlords that inaction to remove problem tenants could result in criminal charges.

In 2015, the city passed a Chronic Nuisance Ordinance that states property owners who receive three nuisance activities or two drug-related charges at the same location will be billed the cost of the public safety responses by the city.

“If the city responds to future nuisance activity call, for example, a drug overdose including two police cruisers and paramedic squad and ambulance, the entire city cost of the two police cruisers, the cost per hour of each police officer, the cost per hour for each paramedic on the scene, and any other direct costs, would be assessed against the property to be paid by the owner,” Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw writes in the letter.

Violations in addition to drug offenses include domestic disturbances, animal violations, gambling, weapons and sex offenses, according to the letter.

MORE: Follow ordinance or get out, city manager tells property owners

The letters are being used in concert with notifications that have been sent to landlords for several years from the Middletown Police Special Operations Unit.

The letters inform property owners that Ohio law permits the eviction of the offending tenant after three-day notice.

“If you refuse or choose not to take action to remove this tenant, you could and in all likelihood will be charged with permitting drug abuse …”

Lt. Jimmy Cunningham said there has been success with the chronic nuisance property letters.

“The letters have different purposes, but go hand in hand with each other,” he said.

The notices also help to command the attention of landlords who do not live nearby.

“We have an issue with people who live outside of the city who neglect their properties in Middletown,” Cunningham said.

The owners of the Parkway Inn flew in to the city to meet with officers after receiving a letter, according to Cunningham.

“They are starting to do background checks on customers and have raised their rent,” he said.

RELATED: Police concerned about high number of calls made to Parkway Inn

Several Middletown landlords applauded the city’s efforts to clean up the illegal activity.

Dan Tracy, who owns 130 units in the city said the enforcement from the city was “long time overdue.”

He hopes the city reduces the amount of time before residents are permitted to be evicted. He’d hit the 26 days to be lowered to about three weeks. Currently, he said, residents are able to jump from one property to another each time they’re evicted.

He said that if the city’s regulations were changed regarding evictions, those who are committing crimes would be more likely to leave the city.

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