City council tables rental ordinance

Legislation intended to decrease trash, parking problems off campus.

A proposed ordinance that would limit any house converted to an apartment complex to three unrelated people as tenants was tabled at the Muncie City Council meeting Monday night and referred to the land and traffic committee for further discussion.

The unanimous decision to table the ordinance to amend the minimum housing standards code came after nearly a half hour discussion that started with Mayor Dan Canaan.

Canaan said the city needed to put an end to the trash and parking problems in areas where Ball State students rent. He said houses divided into apartments often do not have enough parking. As a result, students park in no-parking zones and lawns.

Gary Greenlee, a landlord with student tenants, said he disapproved of the "three unrelated law."

"To somebody like me who relies on that income it hurts," he said.

Greenlee said more rental restrictions will lead to more landlords selling out and more rental buildings being boarded up.

He thinks landlords were not considered during the drafting of the ordinance and worried the ordinance would allow tenants to break leases. Tenants who are violating the proposed code could notify code-enforcement officials and use it to get out of a lease early.

"If we provide students with a loophole, they will use it against us," Greenlee said.

Andrew Seager, a University Avenue resident, received a large applause after he accused landlords of creating parking and trash problems by converting properties for purposes that violate city code.

"That is essentially what is driving single-family homeowners out of the neighborhoods," Seager said. "We need that ordinance in order to protect residential homeowners."

He said the ordinance should not be rejected because landlords might lose money.

The council also discussed problems with the enforcement of current city codes concerning traffic and parking.

First District Councilman Sam Marshall said he disagreed with some landlords who had claimed code-enforcement officials could eliminate trash and parking problems if they would cite tenants for violations.

"If you own property, take care of it, " he said. "You shouldn't have to be told by code enforcement to take care of it."


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