City wants standards for rental property - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City wants standards for rental property

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March 26, 2008

Albany --  Albany City officials are working on a plan to set minimum standards for rental property.

The new downtown manager says substandard housing in Albany is hurting economic development. He wants laws in place to make sure landlords don't become slumlords.

The renter of a duplex we visited near downtown Albany, Trellis Brown, says it is in bad shape, and wishes there could be improvements for the home she and her two children live in.

She says the roof leaks, the plumbing does not work correctly, there is no air conditioner, and she uses space heaters to stay warm. The floors sag when you walk across them.

Downtown Manager Don Buie has visited her home, and says something has to be done. "Mothers and elderly persons are living in conditions that are absolutely deplorable."

Buie says in the less than five months he has been in Albany he has been shocked by some homes people in Albany live in. Now he has written proposed legislation for a minimum property standard ordinance, and the City Attorney is now reviewing it. If approved it would set minimum standards for rental units.

 "Heating, air, water. These are basic things that all dwellings should have. But what we are finding is that a lot of dwellings here lack those basic necessities inside of rental units," Buie said.

Buie says city leaders want to protect the people who live here, and have decent homes for them to live in. But he also says that substandard housing will scare away businesses thinking about locating in Albany.

 "You can not expect a developer to come into a city and invest millions of dollars in a city that is blighted."

Buie said there are not currently any regulations on rental property, and there is nothing illegal about the rental unit Brown lives in. That is why he is working to set minimum standards, and he hopes to get churches and civic groups involved in improving Albany housing.

Buie hopes to take his proposal to the city commission in April. We contacted the landlords of the duplex trying to arrange an interview, but were unable to.

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