Rental cap exemptions final passage expected at July 10 meeting


City Council discusses Rental Cap exemptions at the June 26 City Council meeting. At-Large representative Amber Corrieri is not present but can speak and vote over the speaker system. 

Devyn Leeson

The July 31 City Council meeting will include the final passage of rental cap exemptions that have been discussed since May.

The ordinance, if passed Tuesday, would create a new set of criteria for people to receive a Letter of Compliance (LoC), the document needed to rent out a property.

Under the first exception, which is the broader of the two exemptions, the property owner must have owned the property as of Oct. 27, 2017 and the property must be the primary residence of the property owner, or the property owner must have obtained a building, electrical, plumbing or mechanical permit within one year before the date of Oct. 27. 

Based on a staff report provided at the July 10 meeting, 52 properties would be able to receive an LoC under the permit section of the exemption. Ward One representative Gloria Betcher said the time period used would allow too many people to get an LoC who never intended to get one. 

“Fifty-two eligible properties,” Betcher said. “I don’t know how many of these 52 properties actually intended to get an LoC. I don’t see how 52 potentially new LoC’s doesn’t undermine the value of the cap.

“People could see this opportunity and seize it,” she said

Ward Three representative David Martin said it would be unlikely for people to go to those lengths to receive an LoC. 

“It is use it or lose it,” Martin said. “If they don’t renew their LoC every year then they won’t be able to keep it.” 

All applications for this exemption must be received by Sept. 1, 2018, and property owners will then be given six months to make the necessary changes to fall in compliance with the LoC.

The second exception is for people who have had a hard time selling their house as a result of the rental cap.

Homeowners may be able to apply for the exemption if they have rental properties surrounding them on three sides or the substantial equivalent of three sides and have been on the market for nine consecutive months.

People who apply for this exemption will be required to provide all declined offers on their house.

These houses must have home inspections similar to the previous exception.

The exemptions were proposed to provide financial relief to those who were negatively affected by the rental cap in neighborhoods near campus passed earlier this year. The cap limited the number of properties with an LoC to 25 percent.

The ordinance almost failed at the July 10 meeting as At-Large representative Amber Corrieri voted against the ordinance after an amendment made LoCs unable to transfer upon death. The ordinance was revived with a rarely used rule allowing the bill to be brought up a second time. 

Amber Corrieri changed her vote after they passed an amendment to make LoCs transferable in certain circumstances like death of a family member. LoC’s remain non transferable in cases like the sale of a property.