BOARDMAN — A landlord registration program in Boardman will be underway in the coming days as the new year unfolds.

“The main goal is to keep property values and living conditions in Boardman” to a certain standard for all residents, said Krista Beniston, the township’s zoning director.

The number of rentals in Boardman varies each year as properties are purchased and sold.

Just under 2,000 properties will be mailed letters as likely rental properties for 2021, said Tricia D’Avignon, Boardman’s assistant director of zoning and development.

The registration period is typically January through March, but due to COVID-19, registrations will need to be filed by May, D’Avignon said.

Most of the original mailing list from 2020 has been registered or documentation has been provided that the property was identified as a rental in error.

The zoning department targets owners with the largest amount of unregistered properties for citations once the registration period is up. If the owners do not register after the citations are issued, the citations head to court.

There is a rating system zoning employees use when conducting an inspection, D’Avignon said. That system was created for the township to reduce fees for good property owners and determine the length between inspections, among other purposes, D’Avignon said.

During an inspection, interior and exterior responsibilities of the landlord and tenant are checked.

Those that are tenant responsibility are not deducted from the point system.

Currently, interior inspections have been suspended due to COVID-19, but exterior inspections are underway.

The exterior inspections are conducted on a complaint basis or if an issue needs addressed, D’Avignon said. Then, follow-up inspections are performed every two to four weeks until the issue is resolved. Inspections also are done if a timeline is created with the property owner to address the violations.

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 100 interior inspections were completed largely by landlords who volunteered, D’Avignon said, taking place between December 2019 through February 2020.

When the program initially started, in 2018, it was intended that once an inaugural inspected was performed on all rental properties, then rolling inspections would be done based on each property’s previous inspection ranking, D’Avignon said.

The pandemic has hindered that goal for the time being.

There are fees associated with the inspections.

Each unit is $40, and buildings with more than six units have a base fee of $150 with an additional $15 per unit.

Beniston said that when determining the costs, the zoning department “tried not to be cost-prohibitive,” but also kept in mind that there is an increasing amount of out-of-town landlords, meaning anyone outside of Boardman.

The money generated by the inspections is put back into the program, D’Avignon said, further explaining that a portion goes toward salary, supplies for mailings, court and legal fees, and software which landlords use to apply and pay.

Since the inception of the program, landlords have shared mostly positive feedback with the updated software, D’Avignon said.

In the first year of the program, landlords complained that online options to apply or pay online were not available, so the township listened, she said.

“People are more likely to do something when you make it easier for them to do it,” D’Avignon said.

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