Richland Co. Council moving forward on absentee landlord ordinance

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Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 6:57 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Richland County Council took a step this week to crack down on absentee landlords in unincorporated Richland County.

On Tuesday, the council approved a second reading for an ordinance that would create new methods of contacting the landlords if their properties fall into disrepair and code violations.

The stated goal is to curb blight in the area.

If passed, the ordinance would:

  • Create a contact information database of residential property owners who own property in Richland County, but don’t live in it
  • Require property owners who don’t live within 50 miles of their Richland County residential property (or live within Richland County) to establish an authorized local agent within the 50-mile radius
  • Require any Richland County residential property owners who own 2 or more properties they don’t live in to obtain a business license. Property owners who work with management companies are exempt.

If the property owners don’t comply, they could face misdemeanor punishments, which include up to $500 fines and 30 days of jail time.

The ordinance would only impact unincorporated Richland County, not the City of Columbia.

Richland County Assistant Administrator Aric Jensen stressed the highly unlikely nature of any jail time and the goal of the ordinance is compliance, not punishment

“Our end goal is just to get the situation rectified and to bring the property into compliance with the ordinances. It would have to be something so egregious that I can’t even think of anything right now where we would probably go down the road of requesting jail time or anything,” he said.

Jensen said the contract would help resolve code violations more quickly.

“If there is a situation that requires a quicker turnaround, something that must be done faster than say mailing a letter to somebody and waiting for a response for that out-of-state person, we have somebody local to contact,” he said.

The ordinance is three years in the making and faced no pushback in the first two readings.

The date of the third reading is to be determined.

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