Enforcing an old law

Enforcing an old law already on the books may be a step in the right direction for the village of Bellaire.

Village leaders recently met and discussed ways to deter illegal drug use and trafficking in the community. One step they debated was implementation of some sort of nuisance law that would target the owners of rental properties where drug activity occurs.

More recently, though, village officials said they are working to enforce an old ordinance pertaining to rental properties. The ordinance calls for landlords to register their properties with the village and to include the names of the tenants living in each property. The names of children younger than 18 years old are not required, but landlords are required to list the number of children living at each site they own.

The law aims to help law enforcement find people and to assist the village in collecting taxes, officials said.

“The ordinance has been on the books for 30 years. It went by the wayside, but now we have so many rentals,” Village Administrator Scott Porter said. “It gives us an idea of who is living in our town, and it helps with income tax collection.”

Porter said only the landlords — not their tenants — can be fined $250 per week if they do not comply. Utility service to the property can be shut off as well until the landlord complies.

While the law apparently was not originally intended to combat illegal drug activity, it seems that it might help in that regard anyway. Simply knowing which people are living at which addresses could help law enforcement determine if illegal activity may be taking place at a particular site.

The occupants of a rental property can register themselves and do not have wait for the landlord to do so.

Registration forms can be filled out at the mayor’s office at the municipal building on Belmont Street.

The ordinance also calls for the inspection of a property every time there is a change of tenant. The inspections are meant to help keep properties safe and up to current building codes.

That is important for anyone who might need to rent a residence. Village leaders should move ahead with enforcement.