CEDC Discusses Residential Property Regulations
September 16, 2017
By Stephanie Edwards
Ryan Elam, Director of Development Services, updated Community and Economic Development Committee members on the formation of residential rental property regulations. Committee members discussed the development of a registration process for rental property owners within the City.
“Last month we also touched on the ‘why,’” Elam reminded the Committee. “That was basically that these types of rental property registration programs are intended to ensure properties are maintained in a safe manner, and that is consistent with the current strategic initiative regarding safety.”
Current regulations require that property owners who possess more than four rental units must register as a business and obtain a business license from the City, which requires payment of a fee. Fewer than four rentals are required to obtain a license, but the fee is waived.
Josh Johnson, Assistant Director of Planning Services, presented information the City had gathered on similar programs across the metro, and the parts of those policies staff members liked and disliked. He explained that the City of Independence tied rental property registration to business licenses, which is a process, he said, that may work for Lee’s Summit. The City of Kansas City is working through drafting their own rental registration policy, he said. The Kansas City policy draft is centered on the public health department and contains the provision for inspectors to enter rental properties any time there is a perceived violation of public health policy.
“Obviously, we don’t want to go there,” Johnson said.
He also briefly reviewed the existing policy in the City of Liberty, which he said was “probably a bit too extensive.” The Liberty code also permits an inspection any time there is a reason to believe the code is violated. “That is a thorny path we probably don’t want to pursue,” Johnson continued.
The City is looking at a “Life/Safety Approach” as a basis for the regulations. A list of concerns included smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, handrails and railings, exposed electrical wiring, gas fired appliances, and bedroom exits. Johnson explained that the staff liked the Kansas City, Missouri policy that included a similar list of items in a single-page checklist.
Moving forward, the development of the regulation policy will address staffing and funding implications, exemptions, if any, to the regulations, the issue of hiring third party inspectors, and a fine structure, issuing licenses, and the development of an appeals process.
“I think we’re good so far,” Councilmember Trish Carlyle commented. Looking at the policies in neighboring municipalities to find that would work and would not works well, she said. The councilmember questioned whether local rental property owners would be invited to share any opinions or concerns on the potential regulations. Johnson answered that he felt that once an ordinance is written would be the best time to gather public feedback.
Councilmember DeMoro asked how the City currently tracks the number of rentals in the City, specifically single-family homes. “That is a detail that we have got to work out through this process in order to make sure we’re staying on top of that number,” Elam said. The City has an estimate that there are approximately 8,500 rental residences, but the current process does not allow for the tracking of single-family home rentals.
The staff will continue to update the CEDC monthly throughout the process of drafting an ordinance.
Committee Chair Diane Forte, Councilmembers Trish Carlyle, Craig Faith, and Planning Commissioner Donnie Funk attended the meeting.