Forum on landlord licensing draws crowd
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 03:01
Rental property owners and tenants showed up to give comments and ask questions about proposed rules to implement landlord-licensing fees.
Drawing a full crowd to the Corvallis Public Library meeting room, the Collaboration Corvallis neighborhood livability workgroup heard testimony for about 90 minutes following a presentation of the proposed rules.
The workgroup is currently considering rules that would require all rental properties to be licensed by the city and to meet codes that will be based on International Code Council standards, and existing city ordinances and regulations. To be licensed, rental properties would need to pay an annual fee of $55 to $60, and have their rental properties be inspected every two to three years. Rental property owners currently pay an annual $11 fee for rental properties.
Opinions about the proposed rules seemed split, with most rental property owners against the proposed rules in their current form, while most renters who spoke up said they felt current enforcement of livability standards was not enough.
Those speaking against the rules said they felt they take care of their properties, and the new fees and regulations would be punishing them for the actions of a few bad apples. There were also concerns that increased fees and inspections that would require repairs would eliminate lower-income housing in the city. Many said the city already had a complaint system that seemed to be working fine, and higher fines as well as better enforcement should be sought by the city first.
Those in favor of the proposed rules said they were long overdue and told stories of substandard housing in the city, and how finding adequate housing can be difficult. They said the new rules would help improve neighborhood livability by ensuring owners maintain rental housing. One speaker noted that when tenants move into a house that hasn’t been well-maintained, their incentive to treat the property well is less.
Most agreed something needed to be done as far as enforcing existing rules better and making sure landlords who neglect their properties and do not maintain them are held accountable. Some suggested tougher enforcement of existing rules and higher fines for “slumlords.”
The workgroup looked at similar programs in other cities and received responses from seven cities about their experiences. The cities reported no negative impacts to lower income housing, as well as improved living conditions, stabilization of decaying neighborhoods and better behavior from tenants and landlords. It estimates 30 percent of housing would not meet standards if inspected.
The proposed fees would help fund two-and-a-half to five full-time positions to inspect properties and enforce rules. The fees would raise an estimated $715,000 if the city charged each of the 13,000 rental properties in the city $55.
Last year, the city of Corvallis received 650 complaints. It was noted that many of these complaints stemmed from illegally created housing units, and health and safety issues. Tenants who have a complaint against their landlord can contact the city’s rental housing program to lodge complaints.
Eric Adams, project manager for Collaboration Corvallis, said the workgroup would be taking the comments and questions into consideration over the next few weeks and incorporate them into any changes made to the proposed rules.
The neighborhood livability workgroup meets again Feb. 12 at the Osborne Aquatic Center at 5:15 p.m. Students and residents are welcome, and encouraged, to attend the meetings and provide feedback to the workgroups
Don Iler, editor-in-chief
On Twitter: @doniler