Using Rental Registries as a Blight Mitigation Tactic

Recently, one of GOPC’s partners asked for information regarding Residential Rental Property Registration Ordinances and how they can help address the issues of long-term vacancy and blight. The information below provides a summary of this tool.

What are rental registries?

Rental registries are often created by a municipality to gather up-to-date and accurate contact information for all rental properties in the area.  Registries involve asking for current and accurate contact information from property owners; including names, phone numbers, and a physical address where they can be reached in the event of a necessary code inspection.

Why maintain a rental registry?

Contact information allows city neighborhood and code enforcement departments to better respond to nuisance complaints and keep landlords accountable for exterior property maintenance. More accurate contact information for property owners increases the chances of getting that property to compliance. Out of state property owners also must provide a local contact that the municipality can reach in case of emergencies or violations.   

Rental property registries are not intended as a punitive measure against all landlords, but are intended to establish a means of communication between city officials and rental property owners.

What cities in Ohio maintain rental registries?

Communities from Nelsonville to Cleveland operate rental registries to establish a means of contact with landlord property owners in the case of emergencies or nuisance complaints.

State law requires rental property owners in certain counties to register their properties with their respective county auditors. Section 5323 of the Ohio Revised Code requires that all residential rental property owners must file contact information (name, address, and telephone number of the owner) with the county auditor of the county in which the property is located. Ohio law limits the requirement for residential rental property registration to counties with populations of more than 200,000 residents. Based on data from the 2010 Census, 13 counties meet these criteria.

Rental Property Registration-state counties.png

Landlords who must register with the designated counties are not required to renew their registration, and no fee is associated with property registration to county auditors. Municipal property registries are enacted and administered separately from the state-required registration in eligible counties. Rental registries in cities have the ability to require renewals, enact registration fees, and impose fines associated with rental registration.

Registration & Fees

Registration fees are typically associated with municipal rental property registration, but not required. The purpose of the fee is to fund the administration and maintenance of the registry, and also to pay Code Enforcement officers who conduct property inspections. The cost of registration should not be so great as to discourage a property owner from registering. Cities can charge fines for failing to register rental properties, providing inaccurate contact information, or failing to renew registration in a timely manner.

  • Fee per Unit structure: the City of Nelsonville charges property owners $20 per unit they own or operate within city limits, while the City of Youngstown charges $40 for the first unit registered, and $25 for every additional unit registered.

  • Graduated Fee structure: the City of Painesville charges a $20 fee to landlords who own or operate 1-3 units; a $30 fee to landlords who own 4-10 units; a $50 fee to landlords who own 11-50 units; and a $150 fee to landlords registering more than 50 units.

  • The City of Marietta doesn’t charge landlords a fee for registering property to the Residential Housing Registry.


Rental registries often incorporate property inspections into the registration process to address building code and maintenance issues and ensure that properties on the registry all meet safety and health standards. Again, the details of inspection requirements and schedules vary by municipality.

  • In the City of Canton, a property which is being registered for the first time or which is being registered under new ownership is subject to an interior inspection. The city charges a $100 inspection fee to be paid in addition to the registration fee.

  • The City of Youngstown requires an interior inspection annually.

  • The City of Sandusky requires an exterior inspection be conducted once every three years, with interior inspections conducted in the event of a tenant complaint filed or if a Code Enforcement officer has probable cause to inspect the interior of the unit based on the exterior conditions.


Rental property owners are required to renew their registrations with a municipality in order to maintain the accuracy of the contact information provided. If a registered rental property is sold, then the new owners are typically required to re-register the property under their information between 30 and 60 days after acquiring ownership. Each city sets their own renewal schedule, which can occur annually or over a period of years. For example:

  • The Cities of Canton and Sandusky require property owners to renew registration annually with a fixed calendar date as the deadline for renewal.

  • The City of Nelsonville requires renewal of registration whenever any contact information or property ownership changes.

  • The City of Painseville requires property owners to renew their rental registration once every three years.

Rental Property Registries in Ohio

View registry language from Canton (Stark County) - Section 1351.03(j)

View registry language from Marietta (Washington County) - Ordinance No. 244(16-17)

View registry language from Nelsonville (Hocking County) - Chapter 11.08

View registry language from Painseville (Lake County) - Chapter 1373

View registry language from Sandusky (Erie County) - Section 1341.29

View registry language from Youngstown (Trumbull/Mahoning County) - Chapter 546.11