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Proposed ordinance would create Providence rental unit registry

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Proposed ordinance would create Providence rental unit registry

Sep 21, 2023 | 9:28 pm ET
By Janine L. Weisman
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Proposed ordinance would create Providence rental unit registry
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Providence landlords would be required to register their rental units with the city under a proposed new ordinance. (Getty image)

The city of Providence could join a number of communities across the country that have created rental registries to better ensure enforcement of housing code provisions and protect the health and safety of residents.

City Council President Rachel Miller and Majority Whip Miguel Sanchez on Thursday introduced a proposed ordinance that would create an online database registry for all occupied and vacant rental units in the city by January 2025. The registry would includes single and multi-family homes, condos, townhouses, and leasehold cooperative units. 

The purpose of the registry would be to identify housing units that are not up to code, educate landlords and tenants on building code compliance and connect landlords with lead remediation services for any properties built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. 

Landlords would register their units with the Department of Inspection and Standards and give their name or business entity, home and business address, contact information for themselves and any property manager, and tax assessor’s plat and lot number. Registrations would also include the number of dwelling units, number of bedrooms and occupants per unit and period of occupancy or lease agreement for each unit.

Those leasing a property built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned, would have to provide a valid certificate of conformance, a lead-safe certificate, and a lead-free certificate.

“A rental registry is a tool for transparency, accountability, and safety throughout the city’s aging housing stock,” Miller said. “A registry empowers tenants with information and ensures landlords do their due diligence to keep residents safe.” 

Registration would open on Sept. 2, 2024, and ends on Oct. 31, 2024. There would be no fee for the first year.

Annual registration fees would vary by category as follows:

  •  $30 per property for owner-occupied multi-family rental properties, with an additional fee of $15 per unit for properties of four or more units
  •  $50 per property for non-owner-occupied single family, multi-family, condos, and townhouse rental properties up to three units, with an additional fee of $25 per unit for properties with four or more units (cap of $500 per property)
  • $100 for any owner of a short-term rental unit

Landlords who fail to register by Nov. 1, 2024, would be subjected to a civil fine of $50 per unit, per day, up to $500 for each offense. 

The council did not vote on the proposed ordinance, which was received and referred to the Ordinance Committee for further vetting. 

Rental registries have been established in Buffalo, New York, Louisville, Kentucky, Minneapolis, Portland, Oregon, and Syracuse, New York.