Backlash Forces St. Cloud to Ditch Drastic Rental Property Mandates

On second thought, maybe it’s not such a great idea to force St. Cloud property owners to spend thousands of dollars on a regulatory program with a catchy title but little apparent support outside of those who want to punish landlords.

More than a dozen property owners and citizens unloaded on the St. Cloud City Council this week over City Hall’s plan to make the voluntary Eyes on the South Side rental property program a requirement to get certified by the city.

Their decision to go public led city councilors to back off at least in the short run, reports the St. Cloud Times.

To be validated in the Eyes on the South Side program, rental properties need to meet certain criteria such as adequate external lighting and deadbolt and window locks.

Because of the estimated cost to mandate the program for all rentals on the south side, city staff said the council could consider alternatives such as implementing Eyes on the South Side standards into routine rental inspections or adding incentives for voluntary participation.

City Administrator Matt Staehling said Monday city staff proposed a range of potential options — but noted those are not the only options. The council could decide to not make any changes or to go as far as to implement the program for all rentals in the city, he said.

The mandate would apply to nearly 450 rental properties with some 2,500 units, but evidently only to those on the south side of the city. The new regulations could cost landlords–and ultimately their tenants–an estimated $10,000. No surprise it’s been a bust as a voluntary program up to this point.

Mel Tadych, who said he has been a landlord for more than 30 years, told city officials he is opposed to more ordinances that will burden landlords and called the proposal “government intrusion.”

“I’m just opposed to any more mandated regulations,” he said.

Mary Mathews, who lives in the Southside-University Neighborhood, suggested possibly including some of the Eyes on the South Side criteria into a routine inspection process.

“A lot of it is pretty much common sense and should not require an elaborate program,” she said.

The mandate would also cost local taxpayers by bloating the city bureaucracy with two or three new workers needed to enforce the unpopular program. Yet at least one city council member hasn’t thrown in the towel yet.

Although [council member George] Hontos made the motion to table the vote, he made clear he is an advocate of the Eyes on the South Side program and has been a member of all of the neighborhood best practices task forces.

“We have some really bad landlords on the south side of St. Cloud,” Hontos said, adding that people who claim all landlords are doing their job “is baloney.”

Couldn’t the same thing could be said of the people who claim city councilors are doing their job by pushing this mandate?