Spencer passes remedial action program for rental properties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2018

SPENCER — A plan to hold the owners of rental homes accountable for disorderly conduct or criminal activity on their property has been approved by the Spencer Board of Aldermen.

The Residential Rental Property Remedial Action Program was approved Nov. 13.

It is designed to address residential rental properties where an unacceptable level of disorder or criminal activity has been reported. Property owners will be held accountable when they fail to take steps to reduce this behavior on their properties.

A maximum of three “disorders” will be tolerated over a 12-month period. The threshold is based on the disorderly activity in the top 10 percent of properties with crime or disorder problems as required by state law.

Disorders including police calls for an ABC violation, armed robbery, assault, civil disturbance, drugs, gunshots, intoxicated subject, litter, loud music, overdose, prostitution, rioting, shootings, stolen property, suspicious subjects or vehicles, and trespassing.

When two disorders are reported for a property, the owner will receive a courtesy letter making him aware of the activity. After three incidents, the owner will be called to a mandatory meeting with the police chief and land management staff to review the activity reports.

The owner will then enter into a remedial action plan and be required to obtain a “permit to occupy” at a cost of $50. A plan will be developed after a security inspection by the Police Department, a review of the lease agreement, and a detailed conversation with the owner.

Activity will then be monitored for six months as the owner implements the plan. According to a news release, the hope is that the property will be crime-free after one or two six-month periods, at which point it will receive a compliance order.

Without a compliance order, the permit can be revoked and the tenant removed, and the owner will not be permitted to rent the unit within the town limits until he complies with the program. An owner also has the option to comply by evicting the tenant causing or contributing to the disorderly activities.

“Over the past 12 years, other municipalities with this type of program report to us that they haven’t reached the point of removing a tenant or closing up a rental unit,” said Troy Powell, director of the town’s Land Management Department. “We have a great relationship with many of our landlords in the town of Spencer where we communicate weekly through code compliance officers.”

There are about 168 landlords and 424 residential rental properties in the town.

A copy of the ordinance is available on the town’s website at www.ci.spencer.nc.us. Contact the city staff for more information at 704-633-2231, Ext. 28.