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The rental property situation in Amherst is well-documented and well-understood

The rental property situation in Amherst is well-documented and well-understood

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The rental property situation in Amherst is well-documented and well-understood

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  1. The rental property situation in Amherst is well-documented and well-understood

  2. Is a rental property bylaw really necessary?

  3. The need for rental regulation has developed over many decades and is reaching a “tipping point” • 5,175 rental units today (and growing!) • Rental housing production decreased 13% (1980-2010) • 3000 new residents (2000-10) • 56% of residents are renters (and growing!) • 59% of residents are students • Population growth 176%; housing growth 125% (1960-2010) • Households only grew 1% (2000-10) • 25-44 years olds dropped 43%

  4. Disturbing the peace Drunk and disorderly conduct Open container Underage drinking Keg permits Nuisance house The proposed bylaw is NOT intended to address most behavioral issues

  5. Health and safety issues in rental properties are NOT limited • Exposed wiring • No smoke detectors • No carbon monoxide detectors • No/blocked emergency exits • No hot water • No heat • Exposed asbestos • Excessive occupancy • Structural issues

  6. The proposed by-law is NOT exclusively focused on students or behavioral issues • To protect the health, safety, and welfare oftenantsandother citizens of the Town of Amherst by monitoring and enhancing compliance with basic life safety and sanitary codesthrough the registration and permitting of residential rental properties. • To ensure safe and sanitary conditions in Amherst’s rental housing stock, preventingdegradationand helping to promote preservation of important historic residential buildings and neighborhoods. • Toprovide clear and accessible guidelines for the operation of rental properties for tenants, owners, landlords, and neighbors, and to extend awareness of related Town bylaws and health regulations related to operation of a rental property and those regulations related to noise, alcohol and nuisance behaviors. • To establish and assignresponsibilityfor different aspects of rental housing management. • To establish and expandawareness of the requirements for use and maintenanceof rental housing exteriors and grounds, including parking requirements. • To ensure awareness of and responsibility for occupancylimitsin rental units on the part of property owners, managers, tenants, and neighbors. • To help to stabilize, protect, and enhancethe essential characteristics of and quality of life within existing diverse, multi-generational residential neighborhoods for all residents, including families and students, consistent with Amherst’s long history as a college community.

  7. The proposed bylaw addresses shortcomings in existing regulation • Registration is OPTIONAL. Only 700 properties (<10%) registered in 10 years • No benefit to town or property owner for compliance. • No consequence for non-compliance; no enforcement mechanisms • “Owned” by one department without adequate resources, process or infrastructure Enacted July 1, 2003

  8. Everyone benefits from the proposed registration and permitting • Town • Baseline • Response • Transparency • Landlords • Clarity • Self-correction • “Seal of approval” • Tenants • Safety • Clarity • Complaints • Neighbors • Transparency • Complaints

  9. Registration, permitting and enforcement framework to ensure rental properties comply with local and state laws to promote and sustain safe and healthy neighborhoods in the Town of Amherst. (Section 1.) OWNER/MANAGER, TOWN STAFF (Section 5.) Town uses GIS to identify likely residential rental properties • Property owner registers annual • Registration fee set by Select Board • Registration is mandatory; fine for non-compliance • Property owner completes self-certification; amends annually, as needed. • Parking plan required • Fine for non-compliance or misrepresentation. CODE OFFICER, OWNER/MANAGER, OCCUPANT (Section 5.) Declaration Permit       COMPLAINT Section 7. INVESTIGATION Sections 7., 12. ENFORCEMENT Sects. 12., 13., 14. IDENTIFY (Future) REGISTER Sects. 2, 6.,11. ATTEST Sects. 6., 7. COMPLAINT-BASED Property Research Site Inspection Notice of Violation/Enforcement Order Follow up inspection Fines * Suspension of Rental Permit Court Action Compliant filed • Anonymous • Owner • Occupant • Neighbor • Health Dept. • Fire Dept. • Police Dept. • Inspections Dept. • Code Official • Primary Code Official • Landlord/Tenant Court • Rental Appeals Board • Primary Code Official • District Court Existing requirement, regulation, process Proposed requirement, regulation, process *Bylaw-specific and existing

  10. The proposed by-law addresses gaps in the existing regulation - REGISTRATION OWNER/MANAGER, TOWN STAFF (Section 5.) Town uses GIS to identify likely residential rental properties • Property owner registers annual • Registration fee set by Select Board • Registration is mandatory; fine for non-compliance • Property owner completes self-certification; amends annually, as needed. • Parking plan required • Fine for non-compliance or misrepresentation. Declaration Permit    IDENTIFY (Future) REGISTER Sects. 2, 6.,11. ATTEST Sects. 6., 7.

  11. The proposed by-law addresses gaps in the existing regulation - ENFORCEMENT COMPLAINT-BASED CODE OFFICER, OWNER/MANAGER, OCCUPANT (Section 5.) Compliant filed • Anonymous • Owner • Occupant • Neighbor • Health Dept. • Fire Dept. • Police Dept. • Inspections Dept. • Code Official • Primary Code Official    COMPLAINT Section 7. INVESTIGATION Sections 7., 12. ENFORCEMENT Sects. 12., 13., 14. • Landlord/Tenant Court • Rental Appeals Board • Primary Code Official • District Court Property Research Site Inspection Notice of Violation/Enforcement Order Follow up inspection Fines * Suspension of Rental Permit Court Action Existing requirement, regulation, process Proposed requirement, regulation, process *Bylaw-specific and existing

  12. The proposed bylaw does not include any requirement for inspection or access to properties except when requested during investigation of a complaint Access to property is governed by existing landlord-tenant law Leases may be requested as part of complaint investigation The proposed bylaw is NOT intrusive

  13. Provides clarity by consolidating existing regulations Coordinates complaint processing, and standardizes investigations. Only two (2) inspectors for all properties in town (5,175 and growing!) Input from “code officials” in multiple departments ensures a balanced approach to applications, enforcement and renewals. Ensures new landlords and new rental properties will be more likely to conform Paperwork for initial registration will be neither time-consuming nor complex to complete; renewals will be less so, provided no material changes The proposed bylaw does NOT create a vast, inefficient and costly bureaucracy

  14. Registration (5 minutes) Lease provisions; notifications Parking plan (10 minutes) Self-certification (10 minutes) Renewal is simple provided no material changes The proposed bylaw is NOT complicated or burdensome

  15. Fees have not yet been set by the Select Board Range of fee options were discussed provided Fees become a cost of doing business “Pass through” costs are nominal unless material improvements are warranted and made Fees and costs are NOT excessive

  16. Recognizes that majority of single family homes were never intended to accommodate 4+ vehicles Parking plan ensures each property is compliant with existing zoning by-laws Ensures appropriate parking is known to all: town, tenants, neighbors Accounts for existing situations One-time requirement unless material change necessitates update to existing plan Existing plans can be reused Addresses safety and appearance Proposed bylaw ensures compliance with existing zoning bylaws governing parking

  17. Enforcement has historically been fragmented, inconsistent Continued underfunding of APD limits enforcement Better utilization of town resources Proposed bylaw creates a framework for consolidation and review (registration, investigation and enforcement) across all departments Provides an oversight role and responsibility (Primary Code Official) to coordinate Provides a fuller picture of a given property Proposed bylaw centralizes and coordinates new and existing enforcement procedures

  18. Allow landlords to “self-correct” deficient situations during registration process Existing fines for violations of health, building, zoning and behavior are incorporated under one umbrella Supplemental fines (registration, enforcement) are provided Revocation of permit as option when other mechanisms, including fines, fail to gain compliance Provides an incentive and discriminator – over time, the permit becomes a “seal of approval” for prospective renters Proposed bylaw provides a variety of mechanisms to gain compliance