New housing regulation would limit Iowa City rental properties - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New housing regulation would limit Iowa City rental properties

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New regulations up for debate could mean less rental properties in areas of one Eastern Iowa college town.

The Iowa City City Council discussed Monday night a regulation that would put a cap on the number of rental properties in neighborhoods. The number of rental properties couldn't exceed 40% in the neighborhoods. That would currently affect six neighborhoods.

The city has a regulation for housing that restricts occupancy levels based on whether the residents are a family or separate members.

In April, the Iowa Legislature adopted a law that prohibits the ability to enforce an occupancy ruled based on family relationships. A regulation the city that was used to restrict occupancy levels.

Iowa City Housing Inspector Stan Laverman said the goal is balance, saying that healthy neighborhoods have it. The ordinance would put a halt to a trend in turning older homes into rental properties in those neighborhoods.

"It's not that we're anti-rental, it's just once you reach a tipping point where everything is rental, the condition of the property, the maintenance of the property, takes a different standard," Laverman said.

A heat map shows that neighborhoods where more rentals are located having a higher number of nuisance complaints.

"We looked at the police calls and the nuisance calls of properties and where you have a higher percentage of renters, you have a higher level of nuisance calls and nuisance complaints related to parties to trash to sidewalks not being shoveled," he said.

Under the ordinance, stricter requirements would also be put on landlords such as; requiring interconnected smoke alarms, require separation among duplexes, deadbolt locks for all units.

Landlords looking to add new bedrooms in rentals would also have to follow new requirements for the size of the rooms. The city is looking to maintain bedroom sizes no smaller than 100 square feet.

. "We want houses that have liveable space. We don't want landlords to go in and take the dining room and living room and the family room and convert those all to bedrooms. We want to have communal living space. We want these to function at a household. We don't want to defacto living spaces in our single-family, single-household neighborhoods," Laverman said.

It would also require rental permits for owner-occupied dwellings with more than one tenant. The city would also become more strict with it's sanctions to address property owners and tenants who repeatedly fail to follow the nuisance code and provisions that could impact safety, public order, and the stability of neighborhoods. 

However, it would create a temporary rental permit available for people who have to move for work but it would only allow a permit for no more than two years.

On Monday, city council differed a vote to further a discussion about. Community worries voiced at the meeting addressed concern over the effect of spillover on neighboring homes. Developers and landlords also told city council they believe this would hurt affordability on housing.

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