BARHA Advocates for Residential Rental Owners

We advocate on behalf of our membership in the Boulder area to help promote and protect rental housing owners and property managers.  Our membership has more than 14,000 residential rental units in the City and County of Boulder. As an organization, and through the hard work of staff, board and interested members we identify proposed laws that impact the rental industry in our area and contribute thoughtful industry expertise to aid in our success. We serve as an informed, respected voice regarding Rental Property Owners in the City and County of Boulder.  In addition to our interaction with councils, we work closely with staff to ensure the creation of appropriate and effective rules and enforcement vehicles for the rental industry in our area.

Countdown to the Election

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Boulder Council Elections

Our staff reached out to all of the current Boulder city council candidates with questions to get an understanding of where they stand on rental housing issues.  This year there are 10 candidates vying for 5 seats with only 1 incumbent running.  Click Here to find out what the candidates have to say about rental housing. 

Longmont Council and Mayor Elections

For the first time this year we have sent out a questionnaire to Longmont Candidates. Tim Waters, Gregory Harris and Joan Peck are running for mayor.  Aren Rodriguez, Jeremy Dejuan Johnson, Sean McCoy, Diane Crist, Tallis Salamatian and Shiquita Yarbrough are running for an At Large Council Seat.  And Marcia Martin is running for Ward 2 council seat unopposed.  Not all the candidates responded to our questionnaire but for those that did – below is our question on rental licensing.   If you want to know more about the Longmont candidates and their answers to our other questions click here. 

What is your position on the possibility of instituting rental licensing in Longmont?

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

TIM WATERS:  I will have to be persuaded to support rental licensing in Longmont.  As of this writing, I’ve seen no evidence that rental licensing is a solution to whatever problems we need to solve in Longmont.  I believe the current use of mediation is sound and avoids a compliance, enforcement, and punitive method for dealing with quality of life, relationships, and property.

When the topic of rental licensing was introduced, I voted against the motion to direct staff to develop an ordinance for consideration.  I have, and will continue to ask, the following questions.

  • What evidence exists that our current approach is failing tenants and/or landlords?
  • f there are problems to solve, what are the solutions we ought to consider before considering and adding another ordinance?
    • If an ordinance is adopted, what new problems will we find ourselves solving and are the new problems the ones we want to be solving vs the ones on which we are working today?
    • What might be unintended consequences of rental licensing e.g. landlords selling their rental properties and getting out of the business which will only deplete inventory and add costs?
    • What costs will be associated with creation of a rental licensing requirement and who will pay them?
    • In a town where City Council members talk about housing affordability, how is it possible to add costs without making housing less affordable?
    • What evidence exists of the effectiveness of rental licensing? (I’ve worn out my search function looking for evaluation studies on the efficacy of rental licensing.  I’ve discovered only one, and it concludes that rental licensing creates more problems that it solves.  The municipalities involved in the study all abandoned rental licensing to develop approaches that resemble what we are doing in Longmont today.)

    GREGORY HARRIS:  A. Longmont already requires an annual permit and inspections for short term rentals — rental for fewer than 30 days of an entire dwelling owed by a Longmont resident, or individual rooms in an owner occupied dwelling — to ensure that rentals comply with building occupancy and life safety requirements and do note that rentals comply with building occupancy and life safety requirements and do not create nuisances for the surrounding neighborhood.

    1. Longmont does not need any other kind of rental licensing. This is another example of government overreach.

    JOAN PECK: A rental license isn’t a bad idea.  Both parties need to be held responsible.  I have learned a lot in the past month about the landlord/tenant issues.  There is a problem in the marginal communities with people living in units who are not on the lease.  This has to stop.  A license protects the landlord in proving that damage done to the property was not there at the time of rental.  A damage deposit should be used in that case.  The renter also can ask to see the inspection notice if something in the unit isn’t working when they move in.  The city can be assured that our rentals are in good shape thus ensuring that ghettos aren’t going to be developing in some of our older developments and homes.  A standard rental lease should also be used.   Some leases are so convoluted that the renter, especially if English is their second language, cannot understand the terms and conditions.  The inspection does not have to occur every year and not in places that take section 8, they are already inspected.  The cost to the owner of the unit will not be onerous so that the rent is raised to the extent that profit is being made off the renter for the licenses.

    AT LARGE CANDIDATES

    AREN RODRIGUEZ:  The rental licensing issue has not yet come back to council from the initial motion to add it to a future agenda. I have had conversations with leaders in the Latinx community and have learned of their concerns surrounding a proposed program. Considering the considerable population of Latinx folks in the city of Longmont, this should be a very real concern in discussing the issue moving forward. We should absolutely also take into account that there are some bad landlords that take advantage of the current complaint-based system. It has come to my attention that there may be a way to accomplish some of the issues that led to a rental licensing proposal being added to the agenda without actually implementing a licensing program. I look forward to further researching this alternative while weighing the unintended consequences of what such a program would entail for both landlords and tenants.

    JEREMY DEJUAN JOHNSON:  Many rental property owners own these rental properties due to hard work or retirement funds, opposing a license fee and taxes could be a heavy financial burden on many so I think this would be a very bad choice of action.

    SEAN MCCOY:  The driving question I believe is: Why? Why are we doing this? If there is a serious and real issue that we need to address with the majority of property owners and property management associations because they are abusing tenants, as well as not adhering to municipal regulations, then there is cause to be alarmed. Then a licensing requirement is appropriate. I do not think that is the case. I know like in any sector of industry and the economy there are a few bad apples. We can deal with them on a case-by-case basis. I believe that the vast majority of property owners and property manager associations have the best intentions to try to adhere to municipal regulations and equitable legal leasing contracts. I believe that we do not need to grow government for the sake of growing government and in this case, I believe that this would be the result. This will not do anything but be a revenue creator for the city. I believe that it would be better to hire a real-estate rental expert, a city staff member, who can help educate new and current property owners maneuver through our city’s practices and policies as well as help mediate when necessary. I do not want to have licensing requirements in place that scares the property owners into thinking the only way to stay in compliance is to use a property management company. I believe this would overwhelm even the most robust property management company. Thus, we would likely get more complaints and conflicts between tenants and landlords.

    TALLIS SALAMATIAN:  In Longmont I’m required to license lots of things; my business, my dog, and my short-term rental… so I don’t see a big reason why rentals shouldn’t be licensed, too. As long as there are thoughtful regulations, and the requirements aren’t too onerous; a well-managed market is beneficial to all landlords and tenants. I realize that this will increase costs, but for the benefit of the market I think it makes sense. 

    Regarding inspections, I think those should be done on a as needed basis for serious claims from either the tenant or landlord to ensure tenants aren’t trashing the place and that landlords are keeping up with their maintenance obligations. 

    SHIQUITA YARBROUGH:  Given that Longmont already has inspection requirements for short term rental units and the recent study indicated a modest cost for implementing a full rental licensing program in Longmont, I would support such a measure. As described in the report, other communities instituted licensing and inspection processes following the recession and disrepair. With the unprecedented burden that has been placed on tenants and landlords in the last 18 months, there is the potential for a similar pattern to emerge, which would most negatively impact our most marginalized populations. 

    That said, I would also be in favor of a program that works to support property owners and managers to get properties into compliance for full licensure, especially during the implementation of the new program.

    WARD 2 CANDIDATE: MARCIA MARTIN: I do not support rental licensing for Longmont at this time – though Longmont is the first municipality I’ve lived in that did not have some sort of program. St. Louis, for example, had such a preponderance of slum landlords that municipal control was warranted. Boulder has taken the idea to extremes, and created an environment where Longmont’s landlords will oppose the idea vehemently, even though there is an upside to it as well as a downside.

    I voted with the Council majority to have the staff bring forward a rental licensing proposal. I had two objectives:

    1. To get a better handle on Longmont’s existing inventory of rental units.
    2. To address the concerns

      of renters who are fearful of confronting their landlords about defects in their housing.

      I have concluded that there are better methods than licensing to address my objectives.

      The Longmont EDP is assuring me that they, working with lenders and realtors who are expert in accessing and reading public property records, can provide a quarterly report on the housing inventory to the City Council their membership, and stand ready to do so. Fear of licensing appears to be a great bargaining chip.

      Similarly, the City has learned, between the anecdotal evidence that I have provided on tenant behavior and their experience in finding ways to place the relief funds, that its information and outreach services are deeply inadequate. While we have not yet seen this in the budget, the City Manager has agreed that this must be done.

      Thus, my two objectives can be met without implementing a rental licensing and inspection program. For me, the deciding factor was that I believe that Auxiliary Dwelling Units are a big part of Longmont’s strategy for increasing the rental inventory and increasing wealth for property owners in aging neighborhoods with oversized (by future standards) lots. Learning that ADUs force reclassification of a residential property to the detriment of the owner-resident if the ADU is rented was the final straw for me.

      Again, I do not support rental licensing for Longmont. Being able to avoid it, however, depends on landlords being proactive and responsible in the maintenance of their property and fair relations with tenants.

Current Advocacy Missions

No Eviction Without Representation (NEWR)

If passed, this would provide legal representation for all tenants in eviction cases. Each landlord in Boulder will be required to pay $75 per rental unit per year to fund this program.

Bedrooms are for People

A review of occupancy is long overdue, and with this potential charter amendment out there, the time is right for council to take a comprehensive look at both relaxing occupancy and updating nuisance rules to include increased communications for all involved.

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