A Toledo City Council committee yesterday passed on to the full council without recommendation a minimum habitability ordinance that would require inspections for many residential properties sold in Toledo.
The community and neighborhood development committee took the action after hearing arguments from ordinance supporters and opponents who the committee's chairman, Michael Ashford, said were as "divided as possible."
Supporters said buyers and renters need protection from predatory sellers and landlords looking to sell or rent faulty property.
Opponents called the ordinance unnecessary red tape that could damage the housing market. Almost 100 people showed up and more than 20 spoke about the ordinance - which requires sellers to get inspections for one, two, and three family residences.
"We will have more buyers if people know they can have property that is safe to live in," said Terry Glazer, president of the Greater Toledo Housing Coalition, which supports the ordinance.
He said the current inspection system is inadequate because inspections are only triggered by complaints that renters or inexperienced buyers may not know to make or may be afraid to make.
Supporters said the proposed inspections would be based on a checklist and would place only a small burden on sellers.
Larry Proshek, who said he owns several properties in Toledo, said the ordinance "insults the intelligence" of residents and would be a "waste of taxpayers' money" if approved by council.
"Every home buyer has an opportunity to hire an inspector," he said.
Landlord John Mcavoy said the ordinance could force landlords to pass the cost of inspections on to renters and could prevent would-be sellers from putting their property up for sale if they couldn't afford an inspection.
He said the ordinance also could create long waiting periods for inspections.
The ordinance was introduced by former Mayor Jack Ford in August 2005, but was sent last September to a task force made up of fair-housing, business, and realty groups.
The task force changed the ordinance substantially, but negotiations stalled over mandatory inspections and the group stopped meeting in April, after which the ordinance was passed back to the council committee.
Mr. Ashford said he didn't know when city council would vote on the ordinance.