In early 2019, Boulder City Council passed an ordinance affecting non-consensual towing in Boulder. Many rental property owners use non-consensual towing to ensure their residents have adequate parking near their homes. The initial draft required a one-hour wait before a towing company could be contacted when a car was parked illegally (the “one-hour rule”). This proposal was impractical, problematic and would have had a negative impact on vulnerable populations, business owners and rental owners. In addition, the initial proposal would have require signage sizes to increase to include spanish, english and universal. This would have increased the size of signage as well as require wholesale replacement of signage.
Through the advocacy of BARHA and our partners, council eliminated the “one-hour rule” from the ordinance and on signage only added the universal symbol. In addition, a phase in period for signage changes was added to help businesses accommodate more easily. These changes resulted in a good towing ordinance that met the goals of both the city and business owners alike.
Boulder’s “SmartRegs” Energy Efficiency Requirement
The energy efficiency component of SmartRegs mandates that rental property owners meet an efficiency standard of 100 prescriptive points or a HERS (Home Energy Rating Score) of 120. These measurements take into account items such as a property’s insulation, heating and cooling systems and physical building design. These energy efficiency benchmarks were required to be achieved by January, 1 2019. BARHA has been involved from the inception of this program and have continued to monitor and work to improve the system for the good of all rental property owners in Boulder.
BARHA hosted a tour of a challenging property for council members and staff so they could be better understand the challenges many property owners go through in order to comply. We coordinated one-on-one meetings with clear results for members prior to monthly luncheons. We advocated for the development of a technically impractical exemption application & process, we also advocated for a flow-chart of the SmartRegs process and information on innovative measures for points. We also sent multiple electronic and newsletter updates regarding fee changes and more. At one point we were able to extend the timeline for a fee increase, so property owners would have more time to comply prior to an increase. All of these things helped to increase understanding for both the city as well as our members as they worked through the compliance process.
The environment is an important value to the Boulder area community. BARHA continues to monitor policy changes related to the environment that could have an effect on our members.
BARHA monitors local elections and provides rental housing related information so our members can make an informed decision when voting. While we do not endorse candidates, we provide a candidate forum as well as a written questionnaire. This allows the membership to have a better understanding of where the candidates stand on issues that are important to their business.
An ordinance passed May 1, 2007 that significantly expanded the scope of Nuisance Abatement actions in the City of Boulder. This ordinance makes property owners (both commercial and residential) liable for violations of municipal and state laws by their tenants.
When tenants break the law, the property in which they live or where the violation occurred can receive a strike. Two strikes in one year or three strikes in two years can result in that property owner being called into a mandatory “settlement” meeting. This meeting can result in the owner being forced to apply certain conditions and/or actions on his property. If the owner refuses to agree to the conditions or fails to meet the conditions, the City can take the property owner to court and ask a judge to dictate terms as to how the property is to be managed. This Ordinance has been fought intensely by BARHA. We have spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses on this ordinance. We were unable to prevent its passage, but we were able to get terms altered in ways that made the bill less onerous.
The City of Boulder requires a rental license for all rental properties in the city with few exceptions. Over the years BARHA has been instrumental in moving to private inspectors, as well as updating the rental license checklist as building codes are changed. This involvement as resulted in a higher quality of inspections that are oriented toward important issues of health and safety for both tenants and owners. In addition, through BARHA’s efforts City Council passed an ordinance that defined that when a property is transferred into an LLC by the current owners, Owners will NOT need to act as though this is a sale and begin rental inspection as a new license holder. This means that no new baseline inspection will be require
More recently, BARHA has advocated for ordinance clarity between short and long term rentals. We were also instrumental in allowing Property Owners to advertise without a license in circumstances where a license has been applied for or the units were under construction by using the language “rental license pending.” This was a key win, so rental property owners would have the ability to market their properties appropriately.
For more information about rental licensing please click here.
The City of Boulder passed a Source of Income/Immigration Status ordinance stating that a Rental Property Owner cannot discriminate based on a prospective tenant’s source of income or immigration status. This was a difficult issue for BARHA because our members were divided. We had members both in favor of the ordinance and those against it, which in itself shows the difficulty this issue can present.
Throughout the process BARHA worked with city staff and local housing authorities to provide more education and support for rental property owners. As a result of this, we now have a landlord hotline that folks can call if you have questions regarding the Section 8 program. In addition, BARHA developed a compliance memo for their members as well as hosted a Section 8 workshop to make the process more comfortable for those property owners who were not familiar with the program or had not taken Section 8 in the past.
BARHA continues to work the city of Boulder on this and other issues that effect the affordability of housing in Boulder.
Since the early 1980s, the City of Boulder has required that interest be paid on Security Deposits. A fixed amount of 5.5% was set at the time the law was passed and that amount remained in effect until 2004. In 2004 BARHA was able to convince City Council members to change the fixed 5.5% interest requirement to a floating interest rate that is re-established in December of each year that would be based on real market interest rates. Owners had been losing money on the 5.5% for years since they were unable to obtain that high interest level at the time they were being forced to pay out that rate. The new system is much fairer and more reasonable and will keep up with real market rates.
It should be noted that the rate of interest to be paid is based upon the rate in effect at the time the security deposit money is received, not at the rate in effect when the refund is issued. All property owners have saved significant amounts of money because of this important interest requirement change that BARHA was able to negotiate.
Boulder’s trash/recycling program bundles required recycling services as a percentage of the trash service. It also allows all recyclables to now be put into one container-no need to sort into two different containers as in the past. This is a good thing as it will mean fewer containers on site, although the one container needs to be larger than previous two. In 2016 the city mandated that composting is required at every rental unit. Even though BARHA was unable to stop this mandate, as composting becomes a huge mess at the rental units, BARHA pushed the City to require that every property had their own trash service. This alleviates the problems owners have had with illegal dumping.
This “Universal Zero Waste” ordinance, intended to boost recycling and composting levels in condos and apartments to 85% by 2025, requires all property owners to provide recycling and compost hauling services (in addition to trash service) to all tenants.
The City has acknowledged however, that there are barriers to implementation with this ordinance in the MFU environment and has allocated resources in the form of advising, signage and training to assist property managers with rolling out a program. To order stock signage, email email@example.com. For the training video, click the following links for English or Spanish. Click here for a zero waste tool kit. For questions or to set up an appointment with an advisor call 303-441-1931. There is also a grant program to partially fund enclosure expansions.
Resources for implementation support are funded through the City of Boulder’s trash tax and are subject to fund availability. If you are planning on utilizing these resources we encourage you to engage with the City as soon as possible.
The bear protection ordinance requires all trash and curbside compost to be secured from bears at all times until collected by a waste hauler in the western part of the city. In 2017, property owners were experiencing an increase in ticketing and in addition warning tickets were not permitted. This was a difficult issue for rental property owners for many reasons. Rental property owners educate their tenants Boulder trash policies and their implications, there can be multiple units and it is difficult to determine who is causing the problem or if the trash violation is due to a neighbor or other unrelated person using the bear trash can. Even the most diligent of rental property owners, who checked everyday could still be ticketed depending on the time of day they checked.
Through BARHA’s advocacy, the city changed the bear protection ordinance to allow the issuance of warning tickets, prior to the initial fine. This was extremely helpful to all property owners as it allowed them to work through the issue without incurring fines.