Local News

AP council eliminates rental inspection fee

AVON PARK - A move to eliminate a landlord permit fee that paid for city inspections of rental properties prompted some to speak out against the inspections. Some Lacey Hills landlords had expressed concerns about the fees with the upcoming referendum on the annexation of the community. At Monday's city council meeting, City Manager Julian Deleon proposed eliminating the $37.50 annual fee. Al Hinson said he did not believe that any ordinance should be approved and directed at people because five people (the city council) want the ordinance.
"You should have 20 or 30 people come up ... five people shouldn't put in an ordinance and I think that is what has happened," he said. "This is unfair." He believes the rental property ordinance of 2008 was put in by "a certain group of people and I think that is unfair and it should be taken off the books," Hinson said. Arnold Davis said if he was renting from someone and he knew the place was not livable he wouldn't need the city to handle it for him, he would go somewhere and get it "handled." "I really think this is a waste of the city's time trying to go in and inspect homes," he said. "You are just adding something to the agenda that you don't have to have on your agenda." The landlords shouldn't be slumlords, he said. "If I was renting places I would rent something that I would live in," Davis said. Landlords are paying the fire assessment and sometimes they only break even because when the tenants leave, "you have to fix the place up and you have to spend all the money you thought you made," he said. Deleon said the inspections have found unsatisfactory living conditions and the process has helped ensure safe dwelling units for residents and the inspection records are available. It's a good program, but the $38 fee is not necessary to fund the program. Council voted to eliminate the landlord rental permit fee, but the inspection program, which is conducted by the city's Code Enforcement Department, will continue. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826