The Clinton County Board of Health is now allowed to fine landowners and tenants for ignoring pest problems.
Prior to a recently-passed ordinance, the county did not have any specific regulations set on who takes responsibility for a pest control problem.
The department could only send a letter, but had no way to enforce further within existing law.
Vector Control specialist Jessica Fearnow says she’s seen landlords and occupants of leased property refuse to take responsibility, leading the pest problem to spread.
“It would take weeks, like six to eight weeks, for anything to be done,” Fearnow says. “And usually by that time, the neighbors’ houses were just completely distressed.”
The delegation of responsibility will be assigned after the county health department’s inspection of each case.
Fearnow says the responsible parties are determined after an investigation into the cause of the problem.
For example, a renter who doesn’t keep their leased space clean or a landlord who oversees a defective property.
The health department is now authorized to fine responsible parties who don’t follow through on their obligation up to $1,000. Fearnow hopes the fine urges responsible parties to act quicker.
“I wanted to put something in place that could give the health department a little more teeth to enforce the ordinance,” she says.
Fearnow says it’s a step in the right direction – as existing state regulations were too vague. She says she drew inspiration from surrounding counties and Frankfort city ordinances.