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Ely council OKs enforcement on rental unit license delinquents

Rental property owners can expect fines of $100 per week

Keith Vandervort
Posted 4/21/21

ELY – City Council members here this week were initially reluctant, for a second time, to enforce the civil citation processes on expired rental dwelling licenses. Only after a call by the …

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Ely council OKs enforcement on rental unit license delinquents

Rental property owners can expect fines of $100 per week

Posted

ELY – City Council members here this week were initially reluctant, for a second time, to enforce the civil citation processes on expired rental dwelling licenses. Only after a call by the interim mayor to rescind the ordinance did they realize they were required to act on the issue.
Earlier this month, the city’s building official, Doug Whitney, presented a list of 21 properties in the city where the owner is delinquent in paying required license fees. As reported last week in the Timberjay, when asked by Interim Mayor Chuck Novak for a motion to act on the issue, council members sat on their hands and refused to call for civil enforcement.
This week, the issue came before the council again, and initially, the council lacked the courage to call for enforcement of the city code.
The portion of the code related to Licensing of Rental Dwellings has been in effect for a decade. It states, “No person may operate a rental unit or rental dwelling unit in the city without a license for each building, subject to limited exceptions.”
In his letter to the city council, dated March 30, 2021, Whitney said, “We know of about 200 long-term rentals.” He attached a list of 21 letters sent to owners with no response received.
“We have sent two letters this year and have sent letters every three to six months in past years,” he said.
Failure to respond within 30 days of the date of the letter may result in civil penalties of up to $100 per week.
The code also states, “Failure to obtain either a provisional license as required, or an operating license, will subject the owner of a dwelling unit to an administrative service charge up to $250. Continuing violation of the Civil Enforcement Citation process could result in charges being assessed to the property.
Novak asked for a motion from council members Tuesday night to act on the civil enforcement. Again, all he heard was crickets.
“Well, if we’re not going to enforce the ordinance, how about a motion to rescind and repeal the ordinance?” he asked. “If we’re not going to enforce this ordinance then let’s repeal it.”
Council member Paul Kess, coming off a primary loss in his bid for mayor, reluctantly agreed to proceed with enforcement.
“I thought we were hoping we could push a little bit to get (compliance), so I think we need to proceed with the next step,” he said.
Council member Al Forsman followed Kess’s lead and agreed to call for the enforcement of the city code.
“If we are going to get no response, we are going to have to start enforcement,” he said.
Council member Angela Campbell, also coming off a primary election loss for mayor, made the motion to enforce the expired rental dwelling permit penalties. The motion was supported by Forsman.
Novak called for an improved reporting structure.“If rental licenses are due at the beginning of the year, we should know by the end of March whether there is compliance or not,” he said.
The list of expired rental licenses in Whitney’s March 30 letter includes the owner, rental unit address(es), amount due, and years in arrears:
• David A. Smrekar, 224 S 2nd Ave E, $250, 203 E White St., $250, two years.
• Rachel L. Vandenberghe, 915 E White St., $650, six years.
• Dale Rever, 143 E Harvey St., $310, 25 S 2nd Ave E, $250, two years.
• Michael T. Loe, 428 E Camp St., $350, three years, 239 W Harvey St., $550, five years.
• Ryan Quick, 726 E Camp St., $510, four years.
• Rae Bentz, 105 W Conan St., #1-4, $510 (paid $400 on 3-31-21), four years, 319 E Camp St., $470 (paid $400 on 3-31-21) four years.
• Neil Lepisto, 538 E Washington St., $550, five years.
• Eric C. Urbas, 647 E James St., #1-3, $590, five years, 558 E Washington St., #1-2, $570, five years, 11 E Conan St., $550, five years.
• G.I. Property Group, 614/618 E Pattison St, #1-2, $570, five years.
• Steve Anderson, 1347 E Washington St., $350, three years, 44 W Chapman St., #1-2, $370, three years.
• Shane M. Belehar, 36 E White St., $370, three years.
• Bryan Rusco, 1406 E Camp St., $250, two years, 305 S Central Ave., $250, two years.
• LuAnne Bialik, 626 S 6th Ave E, #1-2, $570, two years, 634 S 6th Ave E, #1-2, $570, five years.
“Some of these people think they’re above the law,” Whitney said after the meeting.

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