Winona Lake Plan Commission approves rental ordinance draft

(Photo Supplied / Winona Lake Town Council)

Winona Lake Plan Commission approved changes to the draft of an ordinance regarding rentals Thursday.

The 9-1 vote was to accept changes to an ordinance establishing a rental registration and inspection program.

The biggest change was the wording to the definition of a rental unit.

“We don’t really have a current definition of a rental,” town attorney Adam Turner said.

The town has a current definition of a family and a multi-family unit.

The definition of a rental unit provided in the ordinance is “a structure, or the part of a structure, that is used as a home, residence or a sleeping unit by one individual who maintains a household but is not the owner of record or a related relative of the owner of record; or two or more unrelated individuals who maintain a common household.”

“Everything’s related to the family,” commission member Heather James said. “The definition of family should still be relevant to this.”

The plan commission also updated its “obligation to update information” clause. In previous drafts, the owner of a rental unit would have to update their registration form “within 30 days of any change in address, change in ownership, change in occupant or any other material changes.”

The plan commission took out a rental owner’s obligation to update registration forms upon a change in occupancy.

“It kinda makes sense if there’s a change in address or ownership, etc. That obligation to update the town makes sense, keeping them up to date on occupancy may not,” Turner said.

It seems burdensome, Turner said, especially when there’s some turnover in occupancy.

The plan commission also updated its inspection fee, upping it to $40.

“I think we had, I could be wrong, I don’t know the exact number. We had $20 or $25 in there. A couple of you (commissioners) said that might be a little low to cover our costs,” Turner said.

The next plan commission has a tentative date of 4:30 p.m. July 11, where they will look at the comprehensive draft. At that meeting, the commission will give its blessing of the draft and it’ll go to the Winona Lake Town Council, Town Coordinator Craig Allebach said.