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Wilmington City Council stalls rental property ordinance

Delaware Public Media

Wilmington City Council voted down a proposal to require detailed information from rental property owners and operators be shared with the city.

The legislation called for landlords to list all of their LLC’s and entities they operate as a rental unit in the city on the business license application.

The goal was for the city to be able to connect the dots if landlords are multiple offenders in providing safe housing throughout the city.

8th District Councilman Nathan Field says the city already has ways to track landlords.

"I do think that this legislation would create unnecessary redundancy, and the primary objective is already achieved. And the experts at L&I - who again share goals of everybody that is promoting this bill - tell us that they don't need it."

But bill sponsor 2nd district Councilwoman Shané Darby says in a committee meeting city L&I Commissioner Jeffery Starkey told her they can’t currently track landlords with multiple LLC’s.

"There's no way of him knowing that one entity, organization, or business has multiple LLC's."

Councilman Chris Johnson also opposed the legislation, saying the bill was unfunded, and the city doesn’t currently have the money to pay for it. 

Meanwhile, Wilmington City Council approves legislation that would revise the timing of appeals related to rental dwelling units.

The bill changes the time to appeal violations from 20 calendar days from the date of the violation notice to 20 calendar days from the date the civil fine is assessed.

It also permits those appealing to raise arguments related to the violation notice, the adequacy of any repairs undertaken in response to the notice, the assessment of the fine, and that civil fines are due 30 days from the date of assessment.

The 30 day limit allows the person being fined time to file an appeal.

Councilwoman Maria Cabrera says this bill also prevents any further enforcement while it’s being appealed.

"As soon as you appeal, it stops any accumulation of fines. You have the ability to go before the appeals board. A seat on the appeals board has been designated for a member of the landlord association, and if still the property owner/landlord is not happy with the outcome they can still go to court. So they have multiple avenues to appeal a citation that they may not be in agreement."

Cabrera notes the goal is for housing code compliance and safe homes for residents, not a collection of fees.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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