Update on St Louis County Residential Rental Property Licensing Ordinance

Last month I wrote an article about a residential rental property licensing ordinance that was proposed in St Louis County by Councilman Michael O’Mara which I felt was a bad piece of legislation and an  egregious violation of the private property rights of property owners.  I heard from many readers that felt the same way I did and in fact, many of you turned out at the County Council meeting earlier this week to voice your opposition to the bill.  I’m happy to say that the ordinance, which was on the agenda to be perfected, was in fact not voted upon by the council and therefore did not become law, yet.  Hopefully, the outcry of opposition from the public as well as from organizations such as the St Louis Association of REALTORS and the  Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, has convinced the members of the council to no longer pursue passage of bill 73.  

See below for public comments that were made at the council meeting in opposition to the ordinance, as recorded in the St Louis County Council journal for the meeting of April.

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From the County council Journal…

PUBLIC FORUM
Chairman Erby called upon those persons who had signed cards to speak at the Public Forum.
The following individuals addressed the County Council and stated their opposition and their opinions with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 73, 2014, pending on tonight’s Perfection Order of Business (Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 73, 2014 proposes to add a new Chapter to Title VIII SLCRO 1974 AS AMENDED, to be known as CHAPTER 825, ‘“RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTY LICENSING CODE”’). They asked that the Council Members give this matter further consideration.

Mr. Walt Bivins, Oakville, suggested that this legislation include an amendment to specifically exclude relatives and/or guests, i.e., exchange students, staying in one’s home.

Mr. Dennis Beaver, a landlord in South County, questioned pursuing this legislation when people are leaving St. Louis County. He stated his opinion that this legislation is “a taking” of a property right. Mr. Beaver further stated he views this as a tax and questioned who this really affects throughout the County. He shared his belief that this will affect the poor residents of St. Louis County and asked the Council Members to not pass this legislation.

Mr. Will Jordan, Executive Director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, stated his opinion that this legislation could have a very disproportionate effect on minority families, on victims of domestic violence, and on persons with disabilities. Mr. Jordan shared how he believes these certain individuals could be impacted if a landlord is required to vacate tenants from rental property. He urged the Council Members to give this matter further consideration and possibly amend the proposed legislation, stating he believes “it’s a good attempt”.

Ms. Cathy Armbruster, Lemay, expressed her opposition to this legislation and stated that “doing this to the landlords is just gonna pass it on to the renters”. She stated that she sees this as an attack on the poor people who are renting because they can’t afford to buy a home. Ms. Armbruster stated she sees this as taking the people’s personal property rights away and an invasion of privacy. She further stated that this legislation would make it difficult for a homeowner to help those in need and she views this legislation as “a hardship on all the people”.

Ms. Patricia Breed, questioned how the legislation defines “landlord”. Ms. Breed shared personal circumstances with regard to a grown son who presently lives in her home and referenced a sick relative whose home she once resided in to serve as the relative’s caretaker. She questioned how this legislation would affect the homeowner.

Mr. David D. Breed, questioned if any exemptions would apply for relatives, i.e., grandchildren and/or sick relatives. Mr. Breed shared possible scenarios in this regard and questioned the licensing process that could apply.

Ms. Lisa Pannet, stated she attempted to contact each Council Member regarding this pending legislation and questioned the “transparency” related to this legislation. She stated her adamant opposition to this proposed legislation and shared her view that this legislation would make it “unlawful to assist a person without a rental license”.

Mr. Ian Zink, stated his opposition to “Bill 73” and stated he believes “we should keep our regulations low”. Mr. Zink asked the Council Members to “please vote against Bill 73”.

Mr. Ken Meyer,63125, shared how he found housing in a private home when he first came to St. Louis in 1960. He questioned if he would have the opportunity to offer this same assistance to someone today if this legislation is passed. Mr. Meyer stated “we have too many regulations on the books and we don’t need one more regulation”.

Ms. Jennifer Bird, stated her opposition to this pending legislation and shared her view that it is an “affront to poor people”. She questioned the right to say what someone can or cannot do with their property with regard to who can stay in one’s home. Ms. Bird urged the Council Members to vote “No, and put it to rest”.

Ms. Teresa Douglas, Lemay, addressed the County Council and shared her understanding of how she could handle a situation concerning her neighbor’s barking dog by following procedures defined in this pending legislation. However, Ms. Douglas pointed out that this could impact the landlords to the point where they could lose their tenants and then there would be further economic impact for all involved. Ms. Douglas stated her belief that this is a “bad bill. It hurts poor people.”

Mr. Joe Passanise, stated he read the proposed legislation and was “a little shocked by it”, noting that he didn’t realize that “we needed another layer of government that would require policing our neighbors”. Mr. Passanise shared examples of living arrangements that could present a problem for those individuals if this legislation were to pass. He asked the Council Members to reconsider this bill and vote it down for the people of this county.

There being no other persons who wished to speak at the Public Forum, Chairman Erby ordered the Public Forum closed and the Council to proceed with the next item on the Order of Business.

 Action  taken by Council:

AN ORDINANCE

AMENDING TITLE VIII SLCRO 1974 AS AMENDED, “OCCUPATIONS, BUSINESSES AND LICENSING,” BY ENACTING AND ADDING A NEW CHAPTER TO BE KNOWN AS CHAPTER 825, “RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTY LICENSING CODE.”

MOVED BY COUNCILMAN DOLAN, AND THERE BEING NO OBJECTION, CHAIRMAN ERBY ORDERED SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. 1 FOR BILL NO. 73, 2014, HELD ON THE PERFECTION ORDER OF BUSINESS.

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