Apartment owners should be licensed in Cobb
June 18, 2013 12:26 AM | 1147 views | 2 2 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Marietta is asking the voters to OK a $35 million bond issue to clean up Franklin Road and streetscape Whitlock. I’ll leave the subject of streetscaping for another time. For now, I am proposing alternatives for cleaning up Franklin.

Franklin is the result of the life cycle of neglected rental properties. As apartment properties age, owners may decide to modernize and reinvest to keep the property attractive so as to compete for tenants at rates sufficient to produce a return on the investment required. Or, an owner can keep reinvestment to a minimum and compete for tenants on the basis of rental rates. In the latter, the property inevitably declines to the point that tenants are likely to be limited to those who are seeking housing at the lowest possible cost. This is the poverty level. Poverty is related to unemployment, drugs, alcohol, prostitution and crime.

Franklin Road is not the first to decline this way and will not be the last. Unincorporated Cobb has many aging apartment complexes. Some have been modernized and compete for premium rents. Others decline. Local governments cannot buy out every failing rental property.

I would propose that the city and/or county require licensing of owners of these apartment properties. Owners of multiple properties would be licensed separately for each property they own. The local governments will not direct operating methods of the owners but will require at a minimum that owners utilize screening of residents and applicants as well as reasonable security measures to maintain security of residents and their property. The licensed operator of rental housing would be expected to prevent his property from becoming a blight on the community.

If crime, police and fire department intervention other demands on public services and/or burdens on the school district (truancy, turnover, etc.) should exceed the rates of the city and/or county at large, the city or county would intervene and audit the management of the property. The audit would determine if the owner has failed to adequately screen applicants or has failed to adequately secure the property.

Management failure by the owner leads to sanctions. Suspended license for 30 days with no promotions, no new rentals, and no renewals. Second failure, perhaps a longer suspension. If improvement is not achieved, permanent loss of license to operate the property as rental housing. All leases terminate with no more rentals. Incapable operators will be driven out of the business and out of the community.

Yes, there are lots of gaps to fill in. My purpose is to stimulate some fresh thoughts to control a problem that is likely to grow over time.

Larry Savage

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Mike In Smyrna
June 19, 2013
Why not just put a fence around Cobb County and legislate Jim Crow laws. If you don't have the proper upbringing you are not allowed in. If someone is questionable, they can enter for a fee.
Devlin Adams
June 18, 2013
Seems to me that Mr. Savage is looking at this problem from the right perspective. Why should the city/county reward an owner for letting his property decline in value, by buying it from him?

Here's an alternative solution. When a commercial property becomes a blight, the city/county should move to pay the owner the "fair market" price for the LAND ONLY. Why pay him for a building, then tear it down?

I might add that a lot of these slum lords have friends in city/county government who will assist them in seeing that they get the highest possible dollar for their run down property. Remember, that is AT OUR EXPENSE. Back room deals are not uncommon.

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