Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Housing occupancy fees eyed

City revisits plan to register owners who rent to students


Homes with more than three unrelated people already violate city law, but enforcement is difficult, Chris Zervos, city inspections director, said.

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The Collins administration wants homeowners who rent to multiple college students to register with the city and pay an annual fee.

Chris Zervos, city inspections director, presented the idea Tuesday to Toledo City Council during its agenda review meeting.

Mr. Zervos said the city “has grappled” with property owners who pack students into homes, especially in the Bancroft Hills and Secor Gardens neighborhoods.

“I recognize this is not without controversy,” he said.

Homes with more than three unrelated people already violate city law, but enforcement is difficult, Mr. Zervos said.

“We are changing the approach and asking the property owners to come register,” he said.

Under the proposed law, homeowners wishing to operate a “group rental” — which means up to three unrelated people could live in a single-family home —would have to register each home for $200 annually, pay $120 to obtain a certificate, and pay for annual inspections. The city would impose a $250 fine for failing to register.

Mr. Zervos said it would be easier to catch noncompliant property owners because neighbors would report them. Additionally, inspections ostensibly would allow city inspectors to observe if more than three unrelated people reside in a single-family home.

Councilmen fired a barrage of questions at Mr. Zervos about the proposed law, which will be discussed in a committee hearing.

Councilman Jack Ford asked whether imposing the fee would have an unintended, negative consequence, such as property owners “walking away” from homes because they could no longer rent to more than three unrelated people.

“Are we trying to do something good that will result in even more abandoned homes?” Mr. Ford asked.

Council on Tuesday also reviewed a plan for the city to acquire the vacant former Clarion Hotel on Reynolds Road in South Toledo, which has become a blight to the neighborhood.

Mayor D. Michael Collins, who sent council legislation last week to acquire the 11-floor Clarion with plans to demolish it, said it would be a step toward developing the nearby vacant land where Southwyck Shopping Center once stood.

Matt Sapara, business development director for the city, said a chain retailer is interested in buying the former Kmart department store on Reynolds Road and making a $3 million investment but is requiring that the city first raze the blighted former hotel.

The building will cost $842,000 to demolish, but the city will not be required to pay that bill, said Joel Mazur, the city’s assistant chief of staff. Grants are available to help remove the vacant hotel if it is part of an economic development project, Mr. Mazur said.

TransCapital Bank of Florida took control of the property at 2340 Reynolds Rd. in 2009. The bank began foreclosure proceedings against the former Miami Beach owners, who operated as Toledo Hotel Investment Group LLC, after they defaulted on $2 million in loans. At the time, the 206-room hotel was appraised for $2.1 million. The hotel was reclassified by the county as forfeited land in November.

The closure of Kmart at Reynolds and Southwyck Boulevard was announced in November.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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