FAIRMONT– Several landlords were in attendance at the Fairmont City Council meeting on Monday evening to voice their concerns during the public hearing on the proposed rental housing ordinance update.
City administrator Cathy Reynolds said the update followed a discussion at the May 24 city council meeting in which some complaints were brought to council. Reynolds said at that point, the board asked staff to review the order, make some changes, and bring it back to the board for review and action.
“The key areas we have addressed in this ordinance are updating the definition of what constitutes a rental. One of the issues we’ve noticed over time in processing the Tenancy Ordinance is that we’ve seen houses rented out under contract for deeds and not being registered with the county, ” said Reynolds.
She said the new ordinance clarifies that if an act contract is reported with the county, it does not fall under the tenancy ordinance, but if it is not registered with the county, it follows the ordinances. on rental.
She said other code updates include an update to the property inspection requirement. Currently, the current code provides that a preventive inspection must be performed during the three-year rental period. An update would be to require that the rental inspection be carried out at the time of the application or renewal of the permit.
“This requires that the inspection be carried out by the city or a contractor retained on behalf of the city to ensure a certain continuity and consistency”, said Reynolds.
An owner present, Danny Klous, expressed his frustration with the lack of notification of the proposed order change.
“There are only seven owners here and the reason is that none of us knew about it. I learned about it last Thursday. We called about 20 owners that we had on a list that we complied with five or six years ago. One of them knew about it. Klous said.
He said he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with the current ordinance. He said he agreed that something could be added about the contract for deed, but felt that repealing and changing the entire ordinance seemed baffling.
Klous raised some concerns about specific updates to the order, including the addition of proof of insurance in the application process.
“It’s an invasion of our privacy. I don’t think we have to show you why we insured the house with it. We opt for the trust system, which is why we tick the box ”, Klous said.
He also took issue with the update that upon receipt of a complaint, the city will investigate the property within 72 hours.
“I think it’s scary for the properties, let alone mine. I’m not afraid that the city will come in, I’m afraid that our city inspector will come in and not select our properties ”, Klous said.
He said he would prefer to have the opportunity to sort out an issue before he goes to town for inspection.
“I think there must be some brakes on this. Want to have a vote in two weeks when one of the 20 owners we called knew? I think there needs to be a lot more discussion before moving forward ”, Klous said.
Another owner, Doug Willner, also took issue with the proposed addition that the inspection can be performed by Fairmont City staff designated to perform the inspections or by a contractor hired by the city to perform the rental inspections.
He said he’s paid around $ 20 to $ 25 in the past for a licensed Minnesota general contractor to inspect properties. He asked Reynolds how much they would pay for the inspections. She said they were considering a graduated scale and a rate schedule.
“Can I hire people to do it today for between $ 20 and $ 25?” “ Willner asked.
Reynolds said the figure they were considering was around $ 50, which is close to what’s being done for inspections elsewhere.
Willner asked if it was unreasonable to inquire about the number of complaints filed in recent years.
“How many of them after the city contacted the owner, were the issues resolved immediately?” “ He asked.
Willner suggested that council meet with city attorney Mark Rahrick, the home inspector and landlords to review the proposed updated order.
“It is very upsetting to feel as a member of our community… that the city is trying to push something down our throats without our contribution at all” said Willner.
Willner also expressed frustration with what he saw as a lack of communication between the city and landlords regarding relaying complaints to rental properties or tenants.
Rahrick, who was on the speakerphone, asked everyone present to remember that the proposed ordinance was only a first draft and that it was also the first time council had seen it. He said the evening’s discussion was part of the process.
The board discussed next steps. Reynolds said the proposed ordinance was submitted to the planning commission earlier this month and they didn’t have many comments or recommendations on the changes.
Council member Randy Lubenow, who raised concerns at the May meeting, said it was a health and safety issue.
“When I hear that residents don’t have hot water and have to go to Super America for hot water …” said Lubenow.
Board member Britney Kawecki said she thinks it is important to remember that a few bad apples can ruin the whole bag and that they try to take care of everyone.
“Maybe everyone here is doing a good job, but out of the 32 owners there are maybe two bad owners. We have to take this into consideration and think about the community as a whole. If the owners are doing their job, if you follow the rules anyway, that shouldn’t matter ”, Kawecki said.
She said everything needs to be updated over time. She said she looked at other rental codes and thinks it’s fairly comparable. Kawecki also said she supported holding a working session.
Foster said he has held working sessions in the past with owners and council members.
Lubenow asked Chief Mike Hunter if the cops who responded know if they are
whether or not to go to a rental home and what is their procedure for contacting landlords in the event of a violation.
Hunter explained that it depends on the situation and that their number one priority is dealing with whatever they are called upon to do. He said if it is a domestic incident it will not be shared with the owners for reasons of confidentiality.
“Tonight gave us some ground to move forward and clean up some things we heard from the owners,” said Lubenow.
Council member Bruce Peters encouraged homeowners to inform council members of any element of the new ordinance that they wish to see removed.
The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the next council meeting on October 11. The council decided to hold a working session with the owners before the meeting. Reynolds said the meeting agenda will be released by October 7.