LA MARQUE

Months after La Marque’s city council first said it wanted to crack down on slumlords, it passed an ordinance to strengthen residential rental unit rules by keeping closer tabs on property owners.

On June 11, the city council unanimously passed a rental ordinance requiring owners who rent out or lease a residential property to tenants to file written registrations with the city or face fines.

Each registration would include a fee of $100 for the first rental unit and $20 for each additional rental unit, city officials said. Any property owner who rented or leased a unit but failed to register with the city could be fined up to $500, officials said.

The ordinance was prepared after a comprehensive review of existing ordinances from other cities, Mayor pro tem Keith Bell said.

The ordinance will force more expenses on landlords, but it’s a necessary step for safety, Bell said.

“You have the potential to have a home that you could raise your children in that would be safe,” he said. “You would be leasing a home that perhaps would be safer than what you are probably leasing now.”

Renters tend to have lower incomes and are more likely to be victims of crime, Bell has said.

Dilapidated and structurally unsound properties could become a breeding ground for drug activity and crime, officials have said.

In January, Bell proposed shifting some of the city’s policy attention in a longtime blight reduction program toward developing ordinances regarding rental properties.

On January 8, when the ordinance was first discussed, council members said 70 percent of La Marque residents live in rental housing.

The city’s staff had been working on potential ordinances to bring before city council that would more aggressively police landlords with inspections and hold them accountable for what was happening on their properties, city officials said.

La Marque joins at least 20 Texas cities, including Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, in adopting rental registration ordinances, according to the University of Texas School of Law.

Some residents worry the ordinance could lead to overregulation, however.

Micromanaging won’t solve rental and slumlord problems, former La Marque Mayor Geraldine Sam said at the June 11 meeting.

“We have so many ordinances on the book, and I just think that they can’t be enforced,” she said. “We welcome people into our city, we don’t want to run them away.”

Some rental registration programs can give city code inspectors the authority to inspect the exterior and interior spaces of rental units on a rotating basis without having to go through the time-consuming process of obtaining a court warrant, according to the University of Texas School of Law. The La Marque ordinance does not contain language about code inspectors entering properties.

Pushing back against slumlord activity is long overdue, Councilman Robert Michetich said.

“This affects us all, whether we are property owners or neighbors,” Michetech said at the meeting. “The need is there to turn this tide.”

Connor Behrens: 409-683-5241; connor.behrens@galvnews.com.

Locations

Reporter

Before coming to work for The Daily News as a staff reporter, Connor worked for us as a freelance correspondent throughout 2017. He has written for other publications such as the Washington Post.

(9) comments

Walter Manuel

Here the podunk town of LM goes once again, trying to generate more revenue because they are supposedly "growing" when in fact you drive through the city of LM and see the exact opposite.

LM is a VERY depressing town to drive through seeing how the city of LM allows their roads to remain in such bad shape, game rooms on every street corner, yards littered with abandoned cars sitting in the driveways and in yards that are not properly licensed and the list goes on and on.

When two of the current LM city council members stop using their "ministerial" statuses in order to avoid paying LM city taxes and another LM city council member who lives with his parents starts to pay taxes to the city of LM, then they might better understand how this new regulation is going to impact others financially who ARE actually paying taxes to not only the city of LM, but also to the county, TCISD, College of the Mainland.

It's always much easier to spend someone else's money and this is just further proving it when 3 out of the 5 current LM city council members don't even pay taxes themselves.

How does anyone have the kahunas big enough to even support such a ridiculous tax when what they really need to say is that we need everyone else to pay so that we don't have to.

LM needs to enforce the rules that they already have on their books instead of side stepping them and playing favoritism where the rules apply to some, but not everyone.

Why doesn't this article not also include that the city of LM is getting ready to raise their water rates when the city can't even fix their own problem and are STILL wasting thousands of gallons of water a day due to their own broken water lines scattered throughout the city.

This is a joke and I don't know how anyone on LM city council can look in the mirror and convince themselves how this new rule will further "protect it's citizens", rather than saying that this is an additional "money grab" making more revenue for the city of LM?

Keith Bell, you and the rest on council ain't doing nothing but peeing on someone's leg and trying to convince them that it's raining.

Code enforcement selectively picks and chooses now who they are going to enforce ya'lls current laws, so what's going to be any different when they have more responsibility and no more accountability to not only the city of LM, but also the taxpayers who pay their salaries???

People REALLY need to see this for what it is.... it's simply a money grab for the city of LM and a way to once again distract those current LM council members from following up on the city's "5 year plan" that still has not been completed and continues to be overlooked.

LM city council members to drive 20 miles down the road to see League City, Friendswood and every other surrounding towns that are booming by "leaps and bounds" in order to see, they are far from being at a point of trying to raise the standards of the city when the city isn't even doing it's own part. [yawn][sleep]

sheryl tillson

Very well said Walter!! The city seems to be following the footsteps of the OLD LMISD.

Walter Manuel

Ooops! "LM city council members "need" to drive 20 miles down the road to see...[wink]

Walter Manuel

"In January, Bell proposed shifting some of the city’s policy attention in a longtime blight reduction program toward developing ordinances regarding rental properties, which make up about 70 percent of the housing inventory in La Marque".

Anyone with a single working brain cell would see this "70 percent of the housing inventory in La Marque" as a sign that most people either know or have found out that they can't sell their home in LM for what it's fairly valued at and so they choose to rent it out just to make money to pay for it.

Looks like LM city council needs to be attracting businesses including apartment complexes that would also be responsible for paying for each of their single apartments rather than penalizes those who decided to invest in LM's revenue.

If your going to talk the talk, then the current LM city council members need to walk the walk or otherwise it's all nothing but cheap talking points.

Albert S. Gonzales

Mr. Manuel, perhaps it is time for someone willing to stand up and be counted run for public office and from what I'm reading you are that man. Best of Luck to you Sir.

George Croix

Keep that up and you won't get the Key to the City of LM, Walter!
Of course, the lock it fits is probably broken anyway.....[wink]

Gary Miller

This does two things. City gets more money and renters pay more. Yes! The new city income comes directly from renters or landlords will have less to improve property. Final result to be more abandoned properties that cost $6k or $7k to tear down.

Caleb Crocker

Our bureaucrats have made America the "land of the fee"

Leonard T. Payne

Well said Walter.
I would like to hear the City of La Marque’s definition of Rental Property.
City Attorney if you would please give us that definition.
I have lived in LM for 71 years, was a former City of LM employee for 33 years, retiring in 1991 as Fire Chief/Fire Marshal. We had a wonderful little city and the best ISD in the State of Texas.
My how things have changed.
The reason in 1 word, MANAGEMENT.
Our roads, ditches, row’s, City owned properties are deplorable.
Go into City Hall and look at the nasty stained carpeting in the front lobby, that has been in that condition for years, and they want a “Slum Lord Ordinance.”
This Mayor and Council, City Managers policy is. “ Do as we say. Not as we Do.”

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.