Council nixes rental license programRental licensing in the city of Superior is dead. And landlords who paid their fees are due a refund.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
Rental licensing in the city of Superior is dead.
And landlords who paid their fees are due a refund.
That was the decision of the City Council on Wednesday night. The council repealed the ordinance created to hold landlords accountable for the condition of property they rent or lease to the public.
“I don’t think this was necessarily a bad thing when we did it,” Council President Ed Anderson said. “I think we all agree that people have the right to live in homes … that are safe and everything works that should work and smoke detectors that work and those sorts of things. I think most landlords are pretty responsible.”
He said he believes the city has the rules on the books to deal with slumlords without the rental licensing program.
“I think it’s good that we drop this one for now, and use the existing rules that we have to take out the people we need to take out,” Anderson said.
Councilor Tom Bridge agreed to a certain extent, but wasn’t sure the city does have the means to take out slumlords completely. He said this particular program “grew into a monster that was out of control,” but he would like to see the city’s License and Fees Committee take another stab at developing a program that is more workable.
“I think we need something that protects a tenant that might complain about substandard housing from retribution by a landlord,” he said.
Mayor Dave Ross suggested letting the city’s administration develop a program to present to the council, but that idea didn’t sit well with landlord Marty Curtiss. Curtiss has advocated for months to rework the ordinance repealed Wednesday night, but to get landlords involved in the discussion.
“I think the one thing the mayor was missing out when he says to have an administrative thing done, you’re missing out on us landlords again,” Curtiss said. “I’d like some of landlords to sit down with the administration and work out a plan that’s livable for both of us. That would probably be the best way so both of us can be happy. If you do this separately again, you’re going to come up with the same problems we had the first time.”
Curtiss started a landlord association in Superior, in part to get the ordinance fixed.
“Basically, I hope this one we can kill, and we can sit down and work together and get a good one,” Curtiss said.
Citing a poll that has run for little more than a week on the Telegram’s Web site, Curtiss said the majority of the 266 votes favored regulations of rental property.
“I hope we can work together to come up with something that is agreeable,” Curtiss said. “And the best way to do that is to give us a voice from the beginning. Let us help you make the city better.
Councilor Chuck Hendry voted to kick the rental license program back to committee to fix small problems with the ordinance. Larger ones developed when the council and committee members learned that additional exemptions to the licensing requirement for federally-subsidized housing would leave a huge gap in funding for the program.
“I believe we need some type of ordinance,” Hendry said. “To me, representing the 6th District, it’s clear as a bell that we need something. I would get a lot of notices of houses that were condemned by the city. … A number of those were rental properties.”
Councilor Nick Milroy, who owns rental property, abstained from Wednesday night’s 8-1 vote to repeal the ordinance.
Council Vice President Kevin Norbie, who has worked toward rental licensing for eight years, voted in favor of sustaining the program until another one could be developed.
“What I’m worried about is sliding back to the complaint-based system,” Norbie said. “… We don’t want to go back to where we were years ago and where we are in some areas. Some sort of program needs to be adopted.”
He said requiring a license for rental property shouldn’t be seen as a negative.
“If a kid wants to put up a worm stand by the side of the road, he’s got to have a license for that too,” Norbie said. “This is basic doing business.”
Contact Shelley Nelson at (715) 395-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org