An effort to change Wilmington’s housing code and hold slumlords accountable for their neighborhood eyesores is headed for a City Council vote this week after years of negotiating.
The so-called “blight bill” has faced opposition because it initially included people who live in their homes and might not be able to afford repairs, and because it increased the annual registration fees paid by landlords.
But now the fee hikes have been removed and the changes only apply to landlords. Fines would now become civil citations rather than criminal charges, so landlords who want to stall or not make repairs would not be able to drag out their cases for months or even years.
The bill also includes a sunset provision after three years.
“I think we have the votes,’’ said Councilwoman Zanthia Oliver, whose district on the city’s East Side and Northeast sections struggles with vacant rowhouses and occupied ones where tenants live in what she calls “horrible conditions.’’
Oliver said she’s pleased that the bill proposed by Mayor Mike Purzycki’s administration will no longer pertain to those who live in their homes and fall behind on upkeep. Those residents can still be cited for violations, however.
She said the rewritten bill “really just targets the slumlords” and would “assist individuals who are renting from landlords who really just don’t care about their properties.”
Click here for the full story from WHYY reporter Cris Barrish.