Pasco County has adopted an ordinance requiring owners of rental properties and vacant properties to register them.
The idea is to give the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office a way to find out who owns a property, or who’s authorized to be on it, when they’re called to a scene.
It also will give county officials information they need to pursue code violations, when a structure is becoming a hazard, property is littered with trash, weeds are overgrown and so forth.
Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the new tool.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco applauded commissioners, noting the registry will help residents who have been dealing with nearby crime and other issues resulting from problem properties.
“They can’t sleep at night. They can’t let their kids out at night. This is something that will help them bring back their neighborhoods,” Nocco said.
The ordinance notes that commissioners recognize that vacant properties and the condition of many rental properties “lead to a decline in community and property value; create nuisances; lead to a general decrease in neighborhood and community aesthetic; create conditions that invite criminal activity; and foster an unsafe and unhealth environment.”
The ordinance also notes that while the total number of homes have increased, the total number of homesteaded properties has declined.
The registry will give the county and Sheriff’s Office a reliable way to communicate with others when properties are “abandoned, neglected, or left unsupervised, or when tenants/occupants are violating county regulations.”
Owners of rental or vacant properties who live outside of Pasco County must designate a licensed property manager, based within Pasco or adjacent counties. The ordinance defines a licensed property manager as one who holds a current and active Florida real estate license.
The registration form also gives the owner an option to enter into a “trespass agreement” with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, giving the Sheriff’s Office the authority to issue trespass warnings to individuals not listed as authorized occupants on the registry.
“I’m really glad that we’ve arrived at this day. This is really important to the constituents of Pasco County that we take care of this problem,” Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said.
“I don’t know that this will get us all of the way to where I think we need to be, but I think this is a great first step.”
Commissioner Mike Wells, who advocated for the registry, said “it’s going to increase (property) values. It’s going to help life-safety.”
It also will help the Sheriff’s Office and the county’s code enforcement department, Wells added.
At the same time, he said, such ordinances have to be carefully crafted.
“It’s a touchy thing. We don’t want to overregulate,” Wells said.
Joe Farrell, of the Central Pasco Association of Realtors, told commissioners, “we wholeheartedly support this ordinance.”
Published January 29, 2020