FORT WORTH -- With apartment owners opposed to amending the city's multifamily-housing ordinance and neighborhood groups fed up with crime, the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved new rules intended to help give authorities another way to clean up the worst apartment complexes.
The crime-free multifamily housing ordinance requires leases to include a prohibition against tenant criminal conduct, making it far easier to evict tenants who commit crimes or permit them. City officials said they have found it difficult to remove tenants who bring drugs or other crime-related activity into run-down complexes.
Residents in some neighborhoods complain that apartment complexes are incubators of crime and drag down nearby businesses and homes.
Wanda Conlin, vice president of the East Fort Worth Business Association and an officer in the West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association, said the problems at apartments have grown worse in recent years.
Because of opposition from some apartment owners, Conlin said, the ordinance revisions were watered down but needed to be passed. She said everyone in her part of east Fort Worth recognizes the problems these apartments cause.
Alan Small, a fifth-grade teacher who owns 36 units at several locations in south Fort Worth, said the rules will force apartment owners to either go out of business or raise rent.
Small said he was most opposed to the anti-crime provision in leases, which he said would make some tenants homeless.
"We need more time to ensure it doesn't injure our citizens," Small said.
Addressing the objections of apartment owners, Councilman Danny Scarth said the rules are needed for owners who allow crime and fire hazards to occur on their property.
He said some apartment owners would walk by butter knives stuck in electric meters, a fire hazard, and not call the city or Oncor.
The council voted 7-0 to approve the changes. Mayor Betsy Price, who is at an energy conference, and Councilman Frank Moss, who is recovering from a heart attack, were absent.
Scarth added a provision that the city review the rules in two years.
The rules apply only to complexes of eight or more units, meaning that rental houses, duplexes and small complexes are exempt.
Among the changes are a requirement that meter boxes be locked if there are two unreported tampering cases in 12 months or one unreported case involving five or more meters.
Tenants with pets must complete a form that includes pet licensing and vaccination information. The landlord must submit the forms to the city within 30 days of the lease signing.
Apartment owners must also submit a recycling plan to be approved by the city within the next two years. If tenants request it, recycling must be provided by Jan. 1, 2014.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698