Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Few More Words About the Rental Disclosure Ordinance

provo zoning map

Council passed an ordinance  in November 2017 that came forward out of work done by the Zoning Committee. There was a lot of public discussion and Council members reached out in a variety of ways to help the public understand the ordinance and its intent. After holding a Rental Law Open House, gathering input through Open City Hall, and inviting public comments at the several Council meetings, the ordinance was passed. Council later amended the ordinance to extend the effective date in order to allow sufficient time for people to learn about the new requirements.

Recent media articles and social media discussions have shown that there still seems to be some confusion. We have updated the information shared last year that gives a summary of how the ordinance will work and what it intends to accomplish, as well as responses to frequently asked questions. We share that explanation with you here:

  • The purpose and intent of the ordinance is to provide a tool to aid in the enforcement of, and compliance with, occupancy limits that are already in place under the laws in Provo
    • The Zoning Compliance Council Committee was organized as a subcommittee of the Council after the Council set achieving Zoning Compliance as one of its top priorities in 2016-2017.
    • The Committee was tasked with looking for legislative solutions to increasing compliance with current zoning laws, not with reexamining whether those current laws should be changed.
    • The Committee came up with a strategic plan for zoning that was approved by the City Council.
  • Many of those commenting on the rental disclosures ordinance have argued that the City’s occupancy limits that are already in place are too restrictive.
    • That is a valid policy question, but not one addressed by the ordinance.
    • Occupancy limits are common across the country and throughout the state.
    • The ordinance does not address or alter Provo’s occupancy limits in any way.
      • Provo’s current limits were set by law years ago.
      •  The ordinance is intended to improve enforcement and compliance regardless of what the occupancy limit is.
      • Unless occupancy limits were abolished entirely, enforcement would still be needed and changing the current occupancy limit would not affect the effectiveness of, or need for, this tool.

  • Over-occupancy is currently illegal under Provo’s zoning laws.
    • Zoning violations are currently prosecuted as Class C misdemeanors. 
  • Although already illegal, prosecuting over-occupancy cases is time consuming and inefficient because of (1) a lack of cooperation by both landlords and tenants and (2) lack of knowledge about occupancy laws.
  • The ordinance has two primary purposes:
    • To require landlords to educate tenants; AND
    • To make enforcement more efficient against those purposefully engaging in currently illegal behavior.
        • It serves this latter purpose by making it harder for landlords to intentionally remain ignorant of the occupancy of their units and for tenants to claim ignorance of the occupancy limits
What it is not
  • An ordinance that affects current occupancy limits;
  • An independent, perfect solution that solves all occupancy violations by itself; or
  • An idea invented by the policy makers without input about what is needed to improve enforcement.
What it is
  • A tool to be used, along with a variety of other tools, to improve zoning compliance and enforcement; and
  • An ordinance requested specifically by those in charge of enforcement based on their experience in actually prosecuting cases that addresses problems they face.
Changes to original proposal
  • The following changes have been made to the original proposal based on feedback and discussions with stakeholders:
    • Added a definitions section
      • Definition of owner includes agent
      • Use of defined terms streamlines the rest of the ordinance
    • Reduced requirement for a contract to a requirement for disclosures and occupancy acknowledgement
    • Reduced penalty from Class B misdemeanor to Class C (but it is enhanceable to a Class B for repeated offenses)
    • Included effective date of August 1, 2018
In addition to the letters mailed out and social media campaigns to make people aware, two more open houses are being held so you can learn more and ask questions:
  • Wednesday, June 13 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at the Community Development Department Conference Room (330 West 100 South)
  • Wednesday, July 11 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at the Community Development Department Conference Room (330 West 100 South)

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Comment below (requires Google+ account), on our Facebook page, through our online comment form, or by contacting Council Members directly. Comments/input on items appearing on an upcoming meeting agenda will be compiled and provided to Council Members the day before the meeting. **Note - your comments will be part of the public record.

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