A year has passed since the New Albany Board of Aldermen considered a plan to establish minimum standards for rental housing. The proposal was defeated on a 2-3 vote.

We think it is time to look at the issue again.

Because New Albany has no minimum rental standards, we have a higher percentage of low-cost and low-quality rentals than many communities in our state. Low-quality rentals lead to more random crime, declining property values, deteriorating neighborhoods and a decline in the tax base.

The proposal offered by Alderman Scott Dunnam was a sound one and would have created only standards that are minimal: water, a toilet, sink, bathtub or shower, heat and ventilation, electrical, protection from weather and the like.

It would have given the city building inspector the authority to prevent rental units from being occupied if the minimum standards were not met.

The plan was the object of an intense lobbying campaign by a group of landlords. Most landlords are responsible individuals who would have had to make few, if any, changes to their properties. But a few are nothing more than slumlords who do not keep their properties maintained.

We think it is the responsibility of a community to see that decent housing is available for individuals and families who have low-income jobs. We support that housing. That’s not the issue here.

The issue here is sleazy rental housing. Sleazy rental housing leads to sleazy renters and more crime – vehicle and home break-ins, and worse.

It’s time to vote again on rental housing standards.

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