HERMITAGE — City commissioners took steps to clarify tenant-landlord relationships under the ordinance for licensing and inspecting rental properties passed earlier this year.

Under the ordinance, any property where the owner does not reside is subject to licensing and inspection by city authorities. During public hearings prior to passing the ordinance, city residents and property owners had questioned commissioners about whether homeowners would have to submit to inspections if, for example, a family member lived with them.

The city commissioners have proposed an amendment to include exceptions to the ordinance to cover situations where a property owner lives with an immediate relative. The board could approve the amendment at its Sept. 25 meeting.

Commissioner William Moder, board president, said commissioners had received calls from concerned residents who thought they should be excepted from the licensing and inspection program. He said residents living with family members were excepted from enforcement under the ordinance, but felt a clarification was in order.

"These exemptions were already in place, but some of the language in the existing ordinance made it seem like it could be construed that they weren't," Moder said.

The exceptions include arrangements were a property owner has a tenant who is an immediate relative of the property owner or a house of worship providing housing to its clergy. The amendment also defines immediate family members as spouses, parents, step-parents, children, step-children, grandparent, grandchild, siblings and step-siblings.

If the proposal passes in its current form, it would go into effect Oct. 2 — seven days after the vote — and all residents must annually submit an exemption form to the city.

Commissioner Duane Piccirilli, vice president, said commissioners wanted to get the rental and licensing ordinance in place, but had always planned on updating the ordinance as needed based on public input.

Commissioner Louis Squatrito, who said the rental inspection program will be a win-win for renters and the city, agreed with Piccirilli and said the commissioners always intended that close relatives would be exempt.

"When we first talked about the program, we said that we could amend it," Squatrito said. "So after we voted on it and a few people got phone calls, we decided we'd better make an amendment."

The Hermitage commissioners voted unanimously to introduce the amendment Thursday evening, and a public hearing and final vote on the amendment is scheduled for the commissioners' next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Hermitage municipal building.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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