City Council Discusses Occupancy Law Enforcement

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COLUMBIA - The City Council will hear a report on over-occupancy issues and discuss a potential occupancy disclosure plan during Tuesday's City Council meeting. Over-occupancy is particularly an issue in single family neighborhoods where rental properties house more than the allowed number of unrelated occupants. A disclosure plan would require landlords get all the names of the tenants, and the city would be able to have the names if there is a complaint. The city has collected public comments on an occupancy disclosure plan since last month. 

Bonnie Bourne is a long-time resident of the East Campus Neighborhood, and said she is in favor of this plan. "Right now my concern is it is stressing the infrastructure," Bourne said. "More cars, more traffic. And also social issues that we have here are increased with more population. So that would mean late night parties that are noisy and trash on the streets."

Ward 6 Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she gets this complaint frequently. "We have 60% rental, and people are spreading out through neighborhood," Hoppe said "So the challenge is to have rental properties in neighborhood but make sure it blends well with residential in neighborhood atmosphere." Hoppe said a disclosure form would help the city enforce the occupancy law.

However, opponents said they are concerned that landlords might be overly penalized. Lee Terry Russell, the CEO of Columbia Board of REALTORS, wrote in her email, "We firmly believe that this proposal will end up penalizing property owners when tenants fail to follow rules and guidelines. Not to mention the administrative nightmare these property owners will face."

If the Council supports the occupancy disclosure plan, staff will work on a proposed amendment to add the item to the Rental Conservation Law.