INC NEWS - Editorial: Overdue rental rules (N&O)
bwatu at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 17 11:13:11 EDT 2008
Editorial: Overdue rental rules
News & Observer, 17 June 2008
It's 3 in the morning and the loud party in the rental next door is still running hot. What's a sleepy neighbor to do? Or a city intent on preserving peace and tranquility in its neighborhoods?
Raleigh, where the large contingent of college students helps swell the demand for apartments and rented rooms, began to curb some rental-related nuisances three years ago. The City Council approved the well-intentioned but awkwardly named PROP ordinance -- Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit.
This local law sets out penalties for landlords whose properties are marred by uncut grass or junk vehicles, or whose tenants throw too many loud parties. Back in 2005, rental-unit owners called it a money-grab (landlords whose tenants repeatedly misbehave face what amounts to a $1,000 charge). Owners also argued that tenants, not landlords, should bear any penalties for bad behavior.
In 2006, responding to such complaints, the then-City Council eased up on the throttle, making it a bit harder to penalize rental owners.
Now, under a new council majority, Raleigh's rental permit ordinance appears likely to get resources and enforcement powers it has needed all along.
Naturally, rental-unit owners are still calling it a money grab.
New rules coming up for a vote on the full City Council would require that all Raleigh rental properties be registered with the city. Their owners would pay an annual fee of $30. Own more than one unit in a building? The charge is $10 a year for each extra unit. Importantly, police could fine owners $100 for loud parties.
Despite complaints that the annual fee amounts to a de facto rent increase, these sums are reasonable and well-targeted. The money will pay for a staff to find and respond to problems related to the PROP ordinance. And all rental properties will be on record, as they should.
This is what the ordinance has needed all along, a dedicated staff, a complete list of rentals and some teeth. Solid, problem-solving enforcement will help bring more properties into good repair, and induce problem tenants to behave better. That helps renters, unit owners and their neighbors -- at 3 a.m. and all the time.
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