Amended Rental Ordinance Will Add New Burdens for Landlords
The City of Lincoln is considering changes to its Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance that would require owners who rent out their single-family homes and duplexes to register their properties with the city. The ordinance would also add new conditions warranting interior inspections of every unit within a rental property.
The Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA) opposes these amendments because we believe this ordinance will add additional burdens to landlords. Requiring owners of single-family homes and duplexes to register their rental properties is unnecessary.
The assessor already posts information on owners of all properties or their agents as a public record. In addition, when tenants sign a lease, they should make sure they have the correct contact information for their landlord in case of an emergency. It is also unclear how the city is planning to keep this information up-to-date since registration is a one-time requirement.
The ordinance also requires rental property owners to live within 60 miles of their properties. It is not uncommon for property owners to live 60 miles outside of Lincoln. With modern technology, a tenant can still easily reach a landlord if there is a problem with the property, and landlords can arrange for repairs to be made or for a relative or a neighbor to check on the situation.
The 60-mile requirement will also lead to unintended consequences on the Lincoln rental market. Owners of single-family homes and duplexes may be forced to hire a property management company to oversee the management of their rental properties, leading to higher costs that will be passed on to the tenant. Alternatively, they may decide it is no longer worth it to rent out their property and sell it, which will shrink the number of available rental units in Lincoln.
The ordinance also authorizes interior inspections of every unit in a property when housing code violations occur in units located in separate properties that are under common ownership. This requirement does not factor in how many units are located within the properties or the severity of the violations. For example, if an owner manages two buildings with over 100 units each and receives a minor code violation at a unit in each location, the city will have to inspect all 200 units under this ordinance. This is far more stringent than the existing requirement for buildings with over 25 units, which requires four violations at the same location before interior inspections of every unit are triggered.
There was also little to no notice or consultation with landlords and property owners before it was put before the City Council. It seems like this ordinance is being rushed through before the City Council and the Mayor’s office turn over.
LIBA believes consideration of this ordinance should be delayed until after the new City Council and mayor are seated. We also recommend that a committee of affected stakeholders be formed to study this issue before any additional action is taken by the council.