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Stewart City Council sets hearing on possible rental ordinance changes

The Stewart City Council has set a special meeting and public hearing for Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m., to consider changes to its rental property regulations and inspection ordinance.
The Council met in a workshop session Tuesday, Aug. 19, to consider changing the ordinance after some landlords complained that it was too stringent.
The City Council seemed to agree at its Aug. 11 meeting that the ordinance should focus mainly on health and safety issues.
Some of the proposed changes that came out of the workshop include:
• Making the term for rental licenses two years rather than the current one year, and inspections will take place once every two years, rather than annually.
• Bathrooms were defined as rooms having a bathtub and shower, or a combination of the two, rather than as a stool and sink, and those would require proper ventilation, which must ventilate outside.
• Changed required minimal square footage for bedrooms to 70 square feet for two people, rather than for one person.
• Struck out a stipulation that all bathrooms, water closets, laundry rooms and furnace rooms must have at least one electrical outlet and one light.
• Stipulates that all mechanical, electrical or plumbing services that are in disrepair must be fixed or properly abandoned.
• Escape windows that do not meet the five-square-foot required opening must be replaced within a rental cycle.
• Struck out a requirement for secruity locks.
• Added language for stairway rails, including handrails on both sides of stairways that are wider than 66 inches, existing handrails may remain if they care not considered hazardous by the inspector, new handrails are required where none currently exist, and new guardrails must meet code.
• Sections regarding weeds, accessory structures and motor vehicles were stricken from the proposed ordinance.