Local News

Raleigh Homeowners, Landlords At Odds Over Rental Ordinance

Posted March 2, 2006

— How would you like to live next door to someone with a mattress on their front porch or a grocery cart in the yard? Jason Hibbets got tired of all the parties and beer cans littering his South Raleigh neighborhood.

"We were losing neighborhood integrity, the peacefulness, the quietness," said Hibbets, who lives off Lake Wheeler Road.

He said Raleigh's rental occupancy ordinance has worked as a deterrent and helped turn his neighborhood around.

"I think we've seen a lot of improvement," said Hibbets. "The biggest change is we've had response from landlords."

Under the rules, landlords are punished for violations -- for everything from noise to trash. If the violations persist, they could actually lose the right to rent their property.

Right now, eight landlords are on probation, and 18 other cases are pending.

"Nobody can control what a tenant does," said landlord Jim Morton.

Hundreds of landlords and property managers still think the ordinance is unfair. Among the issues: landlords and homeowners are not treated equally for the same violations. They also believe they should have time to fix the problem before being penalized.

"If the city finds an issue with the property, we feel like there should have proper notification and time allowed for the landlord to make the correction," said Morton.

Since the ordinance started a year ago, nuisance complaints are down 18 percent. City leaders recommend keeping the rules in effect for another year to see if there's trend in compliance.

The recommendation will be reviewed later this month by a committee headed by councilman Philip Isley. He thinks the ordinance is too harsh and supports tweaking the ordinance.

"If they can get things done in a reasonable period of time, then I think we'll want to look at being more balanced," said Isley.

Most homeowners and landlords agree they want quality housing. The challenge is figuring out how to get there.

More than 100 landlords and property managers have formed a group to fight the city ordinance. They're now considering a lawsuit.

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