Realtors' Plan to File a Lawsuit Against Columbia if Changes are not Made
COLUMBIA - Over-occupancy has been an ongoing concern for the Columbia Board of Realtors.
In 2012 there were 14 complaints of homes with too many tenants, so the Columbia City Council wanted to educate the tenants on the zoning laws and ordinances for that area. Originally the city council and Board of Realtors were working together to find a solution to the problem. But last November, the city council took over drafting the ordinance without input from the Board.
The Board of Realtors has kept a timeline of events since the over-occupancy issue came to light in July.
- July 16, 2012- Meeting to discuss the over-occupancy
- November 7, 2012- A meeting is scheduled and the Columbia Board of Realtors was asked not to attend to avoid overcrowding the room
- December 14, 2012- Board of Realtors receives a notice that a drafted ordinance will be on the council agenda
- January 7, 2013- The Columbia City Council unanimously approves the ordinance with no input from the Board
- January 23, 2013- Columbia Board of Realtors sends a letter asking for clarification on issues with the ordinance
The new ordinance requires real estate agents, real estate brokers and property managers to provide the buyer or lessee of residential property information on the zoning area of the property and the occupancy limits. It also requires that anyone leasing or subleasing rental property provide the tenant with the information on the zoning area of the property and those occupancy limits.
Another part of the new ordinance is a document that all of the occupants in a property have to sign saying they are aware of the zoning for the specific property and what the occupancy limitation is in that specific area.
"We were originally informed of the disclosure form that could take effect, so we reviewed that form and we were comfortable with the information," Columbia Board of Realtors President Jessica Kempf said. But the Board was not aware of other changes being made to the ordinance.
"The additional information that got included was when a city inspector or police officer is investigating an issue with over-occupancy they can request the landlords files, which would include this form, but the ordinance reads all tenant information which would include leases and credit reports and dates of birth and everything else," Kempf said.
Kempf said the board is very uncomfortable with that because of privacy rights.
Another part that was added that the board of realtors was not aware of was a requirement for a real estate licensee to disclose the zoning of a property to a buyer directly. Kempf said that is in direct conflict with the real estate statutes of the state of Missouri and the realtor code of ethics.
Kempf said the board of realtors has been in constant contact with the city to try and resolve the current issues. She requested the council rescind the requirements at the council's June 17 meeting .
"One city council man called us disingenuous for requesting that, which we weren't too fond of," Kempf said.
Kempf said the board is planning to file petition for a lawsuit against the city if changes are not made to the ordinance.
The city council members do not fully agree on whether or not to rescind the current ordinance. Kempf said the city council and the Columbia Board of Realtors will discuss the issue again at a board meeting later in July.
For more information on the occupancy limitation disclosure visit here.