City Council

City Council discusses Rental Cap exemptions. At-Large representative Amber Corrieri is not present but can speak and vote over the speaker system. 

Homeowners may see relief from negative impacts resulting from a recent rental cap ordinance as the City Council has its second passage of a list of exemptions.

The Tuesday meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Ames City Hall.

The rental cap that was passed limits the number of rental properties in neighborhoods near campus to 25 percent. On Oct. 27, 2017, City Council created a moratorium on all new rental properties close to the Iowa State campus to prevent people from starting rental properties in anticipation of the cap.

The exemptions were proposed as a result of concerns on the council that the rental cap could cause financial harms to Ames residents who had wanted to rent out their property but hadn’t gone through with it by the time the moratorium had passed.

The first pathway would allow for people to obtain a Letter of Compliance, the document required to rent out your property, within six months following an initial inspection to check if the property is compliant with housing codes.

If a property owner has not obtained an LoC within six months, the property registration shall expire and may not be renewed or reapplied, but if a property owner makes their home compliant within six months, they will be given 12 months to show proof that they are renting it out.

The property owner must have owned the property as of October 27, 2017 and the property must be the primary residence of the property owner as of the date of application. These application must be filed by September 1, 2018.

There was an additional qualification for exemption that was criticized by some on the council.

At the June 26 City Council meeting, Ward One representative Gloria Betcher took issue with one section of the ordinance that aimed to help people who intended to rent out their property by getting a building permit before the date of Oct. 27, 2017.

“There have been 13 open building permits filed since January, that impacts so few and right now it is very waffly,” Betcher said. “I do not feel confident we know what we are actually asking for. It is all too ambiguous.”

Ward Three representative David Martin agreed, saying it would open up a box and allow for a very specific set of people to be exempt. Martin also noted that the council didn’t know the complete impacts as the council only knew the number of open building permits but the ordinance would also apply to closed building permits which the council did not have information on.

Despite these concerns, the council decided to move forward with the ordinance unchanged and told staff to find the number of closed and open building permits that were given between the dates of Oct. 28, 2016, and Oct. 27, 2017.

The second pathway to exemption was aimed at helping people who had a financial hardship as a result of trying to sell their homes for extended periods of time.

The requirements for this exemption are as follows:

The property must be adjacent to rental properties on three sides, or the “substantial equivalent of three sides.” The property can also qualify if it is adjacent to two rental properties in cases of “unusual geography.”

The property must have been purchased or under a purchase agreement by the current owner prior to October 27, 2017.

The property has been offered and advertised for a minimum nine consecutive months with a licensed realtor prior to the application for hardship. Offers to purchase the property which have been declined must be disclosed, and an appraisal prepared by a licensed appraiser for the value of the dwelling that also includes comparable sales within the appraisal.

The original purchase price and date of purchase. The ordinance originally included the disclosure of the current mortgage balance but this was stricken with a motion from rep. Martin as it would be “addressing the individual rather than the situation.”

A home inspection report describing the condition of the property must be provided as well as Rental Housing Code pre-inspection and cost estimate for compliance with the Rental Housing code.

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