The Salisbury Area Property Owners Association (SAPOA) was organized in 1983. It was not named "Rental Property Owners Association", because the organizers believed all property owners shared many of the same interests and objectives regardless of whether they were homeowners or rental property owners. Salisbury was facing increasing problems in residential neighborhoods which were detrimental to all property owners and legislation adverse to rental property owners was being proposed by the City of Salisbury. The impetus for the proposed legislation was that genuine problems existed in the neighborhoods and heretofore there was a lack of an organized effort by rental owners to help solve these problems. Property owners mostly went their own way and did their own thing without consideration of how their property impacted the whole neighborhood.
At the organizational meeting, soon to be elected first President Richard Insley declared "I can't think of any single group of people who have any more of an investment in our community and yet have been any less organized toward pursuing their common interests than rental property owners. We have spent more time worrying about the grass than our common interests, and our image shows it." At that meeting the decision was made to form the Salisbury Area Property Owners Association.
The first order of business was for the SAPOA to recognize and acknowledge problems in the neighborhoods and to take action to help solve these problems. It was decided the Association's purpose would be to:
- PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE RENTAL PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
- PROVIDE AN AVENUE TO HELP SOLVE COMMUNITY PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH RENTAL PROPERTIES
- EDUCATE MEMBERS ON BETTER MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES TO HELP REDUCE PROBLEMS WITH RENTAL PROPERTIES
- WORK WITH CITY OFFICIALS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH RENTAL PROPERTIES
Subsequently, SAPOA emphasized the necessity of responsible rental property ownership to its members. The Association made it clear that it would not defend property owners who refused to cooperate in solving problems with their properties. A CODE OF ETHICS was developed and all members are required to subscribe to it as a condition of membership.
SAPOA representatives met with Neighborhood Associations and requested a list of problems with rental properties in their neighborhoods which needed attention. They also met with City Officials and offered to work on any specific problems they had with rental properties. SAPOA members offered to serve on City Boards and Committees interested in solving community problems. Additionally, they offered to meet with the Mayor and Council to work out problems with proposed legislation in the interest of having legislation which would truly solve problems but avoid unnecessarily increasing the cost of housing and adding overly burdensome and unproductive regulations.
SAPOA prepared standardized applications, leases, and lists of rules and regulations to be used by its members to help improve tenant selection and better define landlord/ tenant responsibilities. In the years that followed SAPOA became active in the community undertaking projects such as sponsoring landscaping for the Camden-Newton Playground, sponsoring beautification of traffic islands around town for the Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee and participating in and sponsoring neighborhood cleanup campaigns with local Neighborhood Associations. Members including Terry Sell, Dale Dashiell and Richard Insley donated locations to the City rent free for Neighborhood Police Substations and Police Department surveillance activities. SAPOA donated smoke detectors to the Fire Department to be distributed free to Salisbury residents.
SAPOA was instrumental in getting the City of Salisbury to appoint the SALISBURY NEIGHBORHOOD ACTION COMMITTEE (SNAC) in the early 1990's. SNAC brought together members of Neighborhood Associations, City Officials and SAPOA members in a joint effort to solve neighborhood problems. SNAC's motto was "things get done when people work together" and get done they did. SNAC and SAPOA were responsible for procuring a NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICES chapter for Salisbury.
Recognizing that homeownership is good for Salisbury neighborhoods, members including Terry Sell, Gary Chandler, Donnie Williams, Dale Dashiell, and Richard Insley donated houses and Mike Weisner donated building lots to HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and SALISBURY NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICE to be given to new homeowners selected and trained by these organizations.
In 1993 when Maryland proposed Lead Paint legislation for the states rental property industry, SAPOA was very active in Annapolis working to get a workable lead paint law enacted for property owners. SAPOA was also one of the founders of the MARYLAND PROPERTY OWNERS NETWORK.
Believing that community relations between neighbors and property owners can be improved by greater communication and cooperation, SAPOA established a NEIGHBORHOOD HOTLINE to provide an avenue where neighborhood problems with rental properties can be reported for assistance from SAPOA. Members volunteered to serve on the Boards of Directors as liaisons' with numerous Neighborhood Associations including Camden and Newtown Associations and others. Members have been active working with Salisbury University Officials and Student Government Association Representatives to solve student housing and relationship issues in Salisbury. SAPOA has also worked closely with Crime Solvers of the Eastern Shore to reduce crime in our neighborhoods and donated $5,000 to the reward fund in 2010.
While our Association is apolitical, individual members have actively participated in local politics and political campaigns with an interest in encouraging candidates who are genuinely interested in working cooperatively toward solving community problems. Some members including Bob Gladden and Bob Cannon have served on the Salisbury City Council (both as President of the Council) and Victor Laws, Richard Adkins and John Cannon have served on the Wicomico County Council. Other members have served on numerous city boards and commissions including Election Board, Housing Board of Adjustments and Appeals, Crime Solvers, Democratic and Republican State Central Committees and others.
SAPOA continues to be committed to its goal of working with Neighbors, Residents, City Officials and any other Citizens who are genuinely interested in solving community problems and improving life in the City of Salisbury and its neighborhoods and surrounding Towns and areas of the County.