Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey considers a rental inspection program to fight blight

NEW PORT RICHEY — In the eight years since George Romagnoli bought his home on Montana Avenue, he has seen his neighborhood and others around it deteriorate.

Some of the homes are aging, and there has been a troubling spike in rental properties and vacant homes where basic maintenance has fallen by the wayside. Romagnoli said that makes the city look old, run-down, and in many cases, blighted.

The time has come to hold landlords accountable for the condition of their properties, he said.

As Pasco County's community development manager, it's Romagnoli's job to help turn around foundering neighborhoods. Now he's volunteering his expertise to help New Port Richey come up with a rental inspection program to improve the standard of living in the city.

"You make time to help your community," he said. "Some people are really in some desperate living situations in this city."

Romagnoli said an ordinance establishing rental inspections would force landlords to keep up minimum standards on their properties. The program would be funded by an inspection fee paid by the landlords.

New Port Richey real estate broker Greg Armstrong applauds the idea. He, too, has offered to volunteer his time, calling on the city to create a committee to deal with the growing amount of rental properties in the city.

Two decades ago, Armstrong said, home ownership made up 80 percent of the housing landscape in New Port Richey.

Since then a major shift has occurred. The 2010 U.S. Census shows 41 percent of the homes in New Port Richey were rentals, while another 20 percent were vacant.

"We're at the danger point in order to avoid self-destruction," Armstrong said. "When you lose pride of ownership in the community it's a snowball effect."

New Port Richey already has a program that mandates all rental properties be registered with the city and pay a fee, but the measure is often ignored, Armstrong said. The city has about 1,000 registered rental properties with four or fewer units per parcel, according to city finance officials.

"Some people pay it, most don't," Armstrong said of the fees.

During a recent City Council meeting, City Manager John Schneiger said the increasing number of rentals needs to be addressed. "And it's especially helpful when people with expertise such as Mr. Romagnoli offer their help," he said.

Schneiger has directed city fire Chief Alex Onishenko and the building department to work with Romagnoli on the idea.

"We are hoping to have an ordinance to present to the City Council in September," Onishenko said.

Don House, of Indian Rocks, who owns several rental properties in the city, said he would have no problem with an inspection program. But he questioned whether New Port Richey — which is facing a budget crisis, with an estimated $17 million shortfall over the next five years — has the financial wherewithal to sustain such a program.

"It always looks good on paper," House said. "But how do you get it implemented? Who's going to enforce it?"

New Port Richey considers a rental inspection program to fight blight 08/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 1:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986


    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  2. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings


    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  3. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters


    TAMPA — Two decades after RENT shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'


    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]
  5. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home.