Iowa senator speaks out against housing bill


iowa state capitol

Danielle Gehr

The Iowa House and Senate passed House File 134, leaving Gov. Terry Brandstad’s signature the only thing needed to overturn the Ames housing ordinance. 

The Ames housing ordinance limits rental occupancy to no more than three unrelated people. Sen. Herman Quirmbach spoke out against this bill, saying that it will cause over-occupancy and increased rent. 

The bill, which was originally sponsored by Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, restricts cities from “adopt[ing] or enforc[ing] any regulation or restriction related to the occupancy of residential rental property based upon the familial or non-familial relationships of the occupants.” 

Quirmbach offered an amendment that would allow Ames to continue its current ordinance but it was shot down by the Iowa Senate. He expressed that urban towns including college towns like Ames need to regulate density and limit overcrowding.

Quirmbach then attempted to postpone the bill, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2018. 

“I tried to to modify the bill, and when it didn’t get approved, I tried to delay its effects so the Ames community could at least have a couple years to work something else,” Quirmbach said. 

He said that he tried to educate his colleagues that housing started in mid-summer, not mid-winter, calling the current plan an “impossibly short deadline.” 

“If Ames is going to have to find a new means of dealing with overcrowding, then the City Council will need at least a year to work with the community to find an acceptable strategy and then more time to inform landlords, realtors and students,” Quirmbach told the Senate.  

Quirmbach said that he feels that the push comes from landlords who would use the removal of this ordinance to increase the number of residents among various properties.

“There are a few landlords in Ames, and by no means am I trying to broad brush everybody, I think there are a few landlords in Ames that are trying to push this bill,” Quirmbach said. 

The senator hopes that Branstad will veto the bill, but expressed the unlikeliness of this, and said the city will have to start from scratch as to how they will limit overcrowding.