Rental Property Crackdown in Rochester
Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Most of Rochester may not know it but several landlords in town have found out there has been a crackdown on rental properties that are not in compliance with city requirements.
Among those facing charges in criminal court as part of the stepped-up enforcement effort are two former members of the Olmsted County Board - husband and wife, Lou and Judy Ohly. Judy Ohly has been charged in two cases, her husband in one. One of the properties Judy Ohly has been cited for is also owned by her husband. Court records show that case had its beginnings while he was still on the board. They are charged with renting without a required certificate. According to the criminal complaints, city Building Safety Dept. officials sent numerous notifications about the violations.
Housing inspector Lori Jones told KROC News “The last thing we want to do is take them to court.”
More than 50 cases have been filed so far this year, about a third of them during June. Some have already resulted in convictions. Arnold Bomgaars pleaded guilty to five cases a few weeks ago and fined nearly $400 for each conviction.
City Council President Randy Staver says the crackdown has his blessing. Staver says it was the result of complaints from neighbors and citizens, as well as some tenants. Staver also says the city has been lenient with landlords and often gives them ample time to come into compliance. He notes the cases represent a small fraction of landlords in the city as most are in compliance and responsible.
Assistant City Attorney Patricia Alfredson has been prosecuting the cases. She says some involve safety issues that put renters in danger, such as a lack of smoke detectors. Alfredson says many of the landlords who end up in court feel they don’t need a permit to rent their property. Her advice to those who feel the same way? “If you don’t want to see me in court, make sure you’re in compliance.”