WINONA LAKE — The Winona Lake Plan Commission took time on Thursday, June 27 to finish massaging a proposed ordinance that will be presented to the town council regarding rental properties.
The ordinance, named 2019-1-1, is described as “An Ordinance Establishing A Rental Registration and Inspection Program.”
Town Attorney Adam Turner told the commission that he formulated what he thinks is an important part of the ordinance, a section which establishes a definition of what a rental property actually is.
“We don’t necessarily give a definition of what a rental is,” said Turner. According to Turner, a rental is “a structure, or part of a structure, that is used as a home, residence, or sleeping unit by one individual who maintains a household but is not the owner of record and pays rent; or two or more individuals who maintain a common household” who also are not owners of the dwelling.
Turner provided an example of a hypothetical couple buying a residence for their child attending the local college. According to Turner, that second residence doesn’t qualify as a rental until that college student takes on roommates who are not family members.
Rentals will be inspected every three years with an inspection fee of $40 and each unit will be required to be registered each year with an annual $5 registration fee.
Town Building Commissioner Gene Seiman told the commission he estimated the town will have about 240 rental units and said some dwellings that are currently being rented may not be rentals after the adoption of the ordinance.
“I fully expect, once this goes into implementation, that there will be some rental operations that are going to cease,” he said. “That’s what I anticipate. Likewise, we will also have some that we will find. But, I’m counting on the dropouts to equal the ones that we add.”
The commission voted to adopt the ordinance with the understanding that Turner will make all discussed changes. Commission member Jerry Nelson wanted to wait on a vote until a new, clean copy of the ordinance could be presented. He was the only nay vote.