Extension denied to comply with rental ordinance

December 9, 2016

A request by a Sandstone landlord for a 120 day extension to submit a license application for rental properties he owns in the area was unanimously denied by the city council during the first meeting in December.

Tom Viane sought the delay citing several other court cases in which he felt have "significant legal ramifications concerning the City of Sandstone's Rental Housing Inspection and Licensing Program," he wrote in a letter to the city in late November.

Further, Viane stated he had not been provided with a rental application that did not violate his constitutional rights.

Third, the rental registration statement, Viane wrote, "requires me to agree and consent to warrantless and suspicious less searches of my private property."

"My Fourth Amendment right permits me to refuse consent," Viane further wrote. "I chose to do so. PLEASE BE ADVISED that consent is refused under all circumstances unless otherwise agreed to by me in writing. I am fully prepared to exercise my rights in a court of law for any attempt to punish me for exercising my constitutional rights."

Lastly, Viane wrote that the fees for this program constitute an unlawful tax without legislative authority.
In September 2015, the rental license program started in Sandstone, after several years of looking at such a program, which was brought forward by the Quality of Life taskforce looking at ways to better the community. Viane has over 10 rental properties in the city.

City Attorney Sarah Sonsalla responded to Viane in a letter, that was given to the city council last week.
Sonsalla stated that the city code requires the procurement of a rental license before a person rents or leases a property to another person. Based on the requirement of Section 440 in the city code, the request for the license would be denied. Sonsalla responded to Viane's court case references with several of her own, and noted that all city ordinances are presumed constitutional.

"Please understand that the City takes substantial interest in ensuring that rental housing does not endanger the health or safety of tenants or the community as a whole," Sonsalla wrote to Viane. "In light of this interest, the City adopted rental licensing regulations aimed at keeping its residents safe. As such, you are expected to fully comply with the requirements of Section 440 and your request for an extension is denied."

Sonsalla stated that rental license applications for all properties he owns in town be submitted to the city by December 16, 2016. Failure to do that would result in the city considering criminal prosecution in this case. Pursuant to the city code, each day a landlord rents a residential property without a license constitutes a separate misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 90 days in jail, a $100 fine, or both.
Court action moving ahead

In other business, City Administrator Seibert informed the council that criminal proceedings have begun against Leonard Bonander, Jr., for issues related to business maintenance violations on one building he owns at the corner of Main and Hwy. 123 in Sandstone, just south of the Gaslight. Three citations have been issues, all misdemeanors, for a broken door or window, deteriorated exterior walls and lack of siding. From last week, it will take approximately one month until a court date is held. Charges can be dropped prior to the court hearing if the building passes inspection prior to the court date.

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