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Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Tampa launches ‘landlord school’ to improve properties

TAMPA — Tampa’s landlords will have a chance next month to brush up on city’s rule that govern how they manage their rental properties.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced on Tuesday his plans for a free, half-day landlord training course on Sept. 24. The course is also sponsored by the Tampa Police Department and the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors.

“Landlords can make or break a neighborhood,” Buckhorn said in a written statement. “We want to educate those landlords who simply don’t know the rules and support those who want to be responsible property managers.”

Tampa officials say the city has 17,000 rental properties and about 6,000 foreclosed properties.

Andrew Dugill, vice chairman of the Realtor association’s property management task force, said the association aims to protect the public by setting standards for property managers to follow.

“Anything that we can get behind that keeps the standard of landlordship up is a good thing,” said Dugill, who owns Hoffman Realty in South Tampa. “There are some poor landlords out there that give everyone a bad name.”

Buckhorn’s announcement followed his 30-day code-enforcement sweep that netted 684 properties in three parts of the city known for their chronic housing problems. About three-quarters of the properties ticketed for violations were not owner-occupied, according to an analysis of property records. About 75 were foreclosures.

The landlord course will follow a summer that showcased the difficulty Tampa has getting some people to follow the rules intended to provide people with safe housing.

It began in early July when then-Tampa Port Authority Chairman William “Hoe” Brown was ticketed for operating an illegal trailer park on land he owns in Seminole Heights.

The park had been in place more than a year when city officials visited and reported some tenants living in squalid conditions. Brown quickly dismantled the park and reimbursed his tenants about three months’ rent.

Later that week, Brown, a prominent political fund raiser, resigned the port authority seat he had been appointed to by Gov. Rick Scott.

Brown’s situation inspired the 30-day sweep that targeted parts of North Tampa, Old Seminole Heights and Grant Park. While Buckhorn said the sweep was targeting “the worst of the worst,” records show it mostly caught small-time investors with only one or two properties in the city.

Buckhorn said even small landowners can have a damaging effect on neighborhoods if they let their properties become blighted.

The landlord course was planned before the Brown scandal hit. It will include presentations by the city’s Neighborhood Empowerment Department, which includes code enforcement, and by Tampa Police focused on the city’s housing codes, code enforcement procedures, proper property maintenance and crime prevention.

Because of space limitations, city officials are taking reservations online at: http://www.tampagov.net/mayorslandlordtraining.

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