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Amnesty program encourages rental property registration

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | 6:16 p.m. CST; updated 9:52 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 8, 2010

COLUMBIA — An autumn amnesty program prompted landlords to add 225 previously unregistered Columbia rental units to the city's records. It brought the total number of registered rental units to 22,940.

The exact total will remain unknown as more rental units are out there, but Leigh Britt, manager of the Office of Neighborhood Services, is happy with the results of its Rental Registry Amnesty Program. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15, Columbia landlords were able to register rental units to the office without fear of prosecution for noncompliance.

“The bottom line is this: There are many new units that are in compliance,” Britt said. “We believe that those came from awareness of the amnesty program.”

The Missourian reported on the program in September.

The city requires all rental units to be registered with the Office of Neighborhood Services, which is responsible for inspecting and enforcing maintenance in accordance with the city’s Rental Unit Conservation Law. The office issues a certificate of compliance to rental units that pass inspection.

During the amnesty period, the office received 209 new applications for buildings with rental units. Britt said the city accepted another 15 applications with amnesty after Nov. 15 because they probably came in response to the program.

Those new applications added 225 new units to the registry and will generate $9,408 in fees for the city, according to a report to City Manager Bill Watkins by Britt. A new application is $35 per building and $7 per inspection per unit. A single-family home is $42, a duplex $49 and a fourplex $63.

“A lot of them were single-family houses. There were some duplexes in there,” Britt said. “There were several trailer homes that applied as well.”

Britt said the type of applications likely reflects that the newly registered property owners are not professionally organized and didn’t know that the registration law existed when they began renting their property.

In her report, Britt recognized her colleagues Julie Giboney and Rose Wibbenmeyer, assistant city counselor, for their work on the program.

“This is something they had discussed and come up with,” Britt said. “Julie is our administrative support assistant, so she entered all that data into our system.”

Britt said the office might consider another amnesty period.

“We could do it every few years,” she said. “We think it served its purpose. We’re happy with the response.”

Now that the office has received the new applicants, the next step will be inspecting the newly registered properties.

“We will require that they are in compliance with code we enforce,” Britt said. “After those applications are inspected, they’ll receive a certificate of compliance.”

The new properties will be added to the long list of buildings for which the office is responsible.

“We’ve got a large ongoing workload of things,” Britt said. “Nearly 23,000 (rental units) — that’s a lot of work.”


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Comments

John Schultz December 8, 2010 | 11:02 p.m.

Might be interesting to know how many units are already up to snuff already when they are inspected...

(Report Comment)
Dale Jones December 8, 2010 | 11:16 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
John Schultz December 9, 2010 | 3:09 a.m.

"Dale", as was pointed out to you by another commenter previously, ONS was a reorganization of existing employees already employed by the city.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock December 9, 2010 | 7:57 a.m.

Hey John,

"Dale" registered his account with a non-working e-mail address, so he's been taken off the site. But, if "Dale" would like to come back under his real name, he can email me at SherlockJ@missouri.edu and I'd be happy to restore his comments under his real name.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 9, 2010 | 9:56 a.m.

I have a feeling he didn't want to register under his real name because he thinks it might hurt his business selling houses. Funny how people will use their name while talking at a city council meeting, but not online if they can get away with it.

(Report Comment)

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