Pasco County is eyeing rental registry

The Pasco County Commission is considering the possibility of requiring owners of rental property to sign up on a rental registry —  to enable the county to find property owners quickly, if the need arises.

“It really is a life-safety issue,” said Commissioner Mike Wells, who is working on the initiative.

Mike Wells

“We need to do something,” Wells said, during the commission’s April 23 meeting. He has begun meeting with stakeholders on the issue, seeking their ideas and buy-in.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey threw her support behind the idea.

“Commissioner Wells, I’m very glad you’ve been working on this.

“I can’t wait for that ordinance,” she said.

On one hand, the county doesn’t want to over-regulate, Starkey said. But, she added: “When you have multiple houses and you’re renting them out, that’s a business and you should be accountable for the effects of your business, in my opinion.

“If your tenants are causing no problems, that’s fine.

“But, if you’re starting to have to have our sheriff and our code enforcement coming out there regularly, the other people on the street shouldn’t have to be paying for the time of the county employees to go out there, over and over again,” Starkey said.

Plus, she said, “when  you have someone on your street and they’re renting their house out and they don’t care what goes on that street, it becomes a real quality-of-life issue for the rest of the neighborhood and brings it down.”

Wells said there are 99,000 non-homesteaded properties in Pasco County.

“Obviously, they’re not all rentals. They could be summer homes or winter homes,” Wells said.

Chase Daniels, policy director for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, said the Sheriff supports a zero fee registration and 100 percent participation.

“Our IT department can manage this program,” Daniels said. The idea is to have a local point of contact and be able to tell who should be in the house.

A budget amendment would not be needed to operate the registry, Daniels said. “This is something we can absorb in our existing resources.”

Commissioner Jack Mariano pushed back on the idea of requiring every rental property owner to register.

“I don’t know why we don’t focus on where the problems are,” Mariano said, adding he doesn’t understand why people who haven’t had any problems would be required to do so.

But, Commission Chairman Ron Oakley said: “Every person who falls in that category needs to be under the same rules.”

County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder said the board needs to discuss the issue in a workshop before moving forward on a rental registry ordinance.

Published May 01, 2019

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