Letter: Poor rental property conditions need greater attention

From: Christopher Rutan


I moved to the Ninth Street Park area in November 2010 and at that time it was a crime-ridden area with run-down houses and property owners who didn’t care about their units or who lived in them. The 9th Street Park Neighborhood Watch was formed, and fortunately over the next several years, we were able to get owners and renters to pay attention to their surroundings.

The Columbus Police Department and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department are working together and getting a lot more tips than years ago about mischief in their neighborhood or around town. I like to reminisce about all the good times and hate to think about all the bad times we encountered in the area. I moved from the area in 2022 for personal reasons but still drive through the area multiple times a week.

Has anyone besides me noticed all the condemned apartments or houses that are supposed to be under remodel? I was sickened to learn that the owners in this area are back to not caring about their properties. If there are drug arrests at a property, Code Enforcement may condemn the house because of a failed inspection and then the owner is given an allotted time to repair or fix the unit so it can be re-rented. However, when this occurs, the property owner often doesn’t care about a time, and other avenues have to be explored to correct the situation. It seems to be all about money for the less considerate.

If anyone hasn’t noticed, we have a homeless problem in Columbus. If these units were fixed up, there’s a possibility that more people could become renters. The process to remodel isn’t easy but could be done in a timely manner. I understand that property taxes, rent, food, and everything has gone up, but these houses and apartments should be remodeled and in living condition sooner rather than later.

The bottom line is we need a rental inspection program to prevent these types of circumstances. The owners need to be held accountable just like the tenants are, if they are evicted. Inspections need to be held every 30 to 60 days to make sure their property is not being ran into the ground. Some of the things that should be looked at closely are the framework of the house including roof, electrical, flooring, windows, heating system and plumbing.

Inspections are required when buying a home, so what is renting an apartment different? Many problems could be avoided if the properties were inspected before a potential tenant moves in then finds the problems later. When will the landlord fix these problems? That’s the question!