Columbia Seeks Public Input on Rental Fees

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Community Development Department hosted two public meetings Tuesday to discuss a proposed increase in fees to enforce the Rental Unit Conservation Law. The government requires the city to  inspect rental properties every six years. City staff presented an increase to inspection fees for the 2013 fiscal year from $7 to $15 per unit.  The proposal also includes increasing re-inspection fees from $20 to $25 per unit and failure to meet the inspector from $15 to $20 per incident.

Only about a dozen people total came to the first meeting at 4 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. Columbia Office of Neighborhood Services Manager Leigh Britt said she was surprised more property owners did not attend.

The city said it last increased rental inspection fees in 2000. The city currently recovers about 75 percent of the cost to carry out the Rental Unit Conservation Law, and the increases will allow it to recover a greater amount of the program's expense.

The meetings also discussed another rental property issue in light of the opportunity for public comments. Last June, the Columbia City Council got a report on over-occupancy. The report suggested an occupancy disclosure form that all rental property owners would be required to complete with information on their tenants. This could help the city investigate over-occupancy  cases and nuisance violations. The property owner or manager would maintain this form and present it to the city upon request. Visit this online form if you would like to submit a public comment.

The city will collect public comments until about July 30, and they will then be submitted in a report to the Columbia City Council. The council will also hold public hearings on the 2013 fiscal year budget on Aug. 20, Sept. 4 and Sept. 17. If the council approves the increases, they would go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.