In a significant move to prioritize the well-being of residents and tackle issues related to absentee property owners, the Cleveland City Council has unanimously approved a comprehensive housing ordinance based on Mayor Justin Bibb's administration's strategic plan, named "Residents First." The new measures aim to enhance accountability, streamline property inspections, and address long-standing challenges in the city's housing sector. 

One key provision of the ordinance is the introduction of a "Local Agent Requirement" for landlords, particularly those residing outside Cuyahoga County. Landlords who do not reside in Cuyahoga County are now mandated to designate a “Local Agent in Charge” who will assume legal responsibility for code violations and must reside in the county. This approach is designed to bridge the communication gap between the city and property owners, ensuring that those responsible for neglected properties can be easily reached and held accountable. The city can now impose fines and housing court summonses on local agents if property owners remain unresponsive.  

Another notable change involves the implementation of a point-of-sale inspection system for vacant buildings. Owners must register their vacant properties with the city, which will conduct inspections within a year of a sale. Buyers of vacant buildings will be entrusted with rectifying code violations within a specified timeframe. The legislation, although met with some resistance, was amended to include only exterior inspections during the point-of-sale process, addressing concerns about potential impacts on the housing market. 

To further streamline the enforcement process, the ordinance introduces a novel approach to addressing code violations. Building inspectors are now empowered to issue $200 civil tickets instead of resorting to lengthy housing court proceedings. Unpaid fines can be added to property tax duplicates, creating a more efficient mechanism for penalizing non-compliance. 

Recognizing the importance of proactive measures, the new law updates parking garage inspections. Garage owners must submit inspection reports to the city every five years, a development aimed at preventing incidents of garage collapses that have garnered attention in neighboring areas in recent years.  

The Cleveland City Council's approval of the "Residents First" housing ordinance marks a crucial milestone in the city's efforts to promote responsible property ownership, and address the unique challenges posed by absentee landlords. While the ordinance signifies a step forward in Cleveland's commitment to housing reform, some concerns were raised about potential impacts on the housing market's pace of recovery. The legislation includes a sunset clause, stipulating a reassessment of the program after a two-year trial period to evaluate its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

For more details or questions regarding these changes contact:  

The Building & Housing Department: / (216) 664-2000 

BOMA Staff – Malik Darwish: 

Category: Featured

Tags: Government Affairs, Featured Article, Parking, Building Code, inspection