Renter’s Rights Code

By Edgewater Councilman Kristian Teegardin

Council has been working on this ordinance for a few years, before I was elected in November 2011.  Presently, the ordinance’s intent and purpose is thusly stated:

(b) Purpose and intent. The purpose and intent of this Rental Code is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health, property, and public welfare by regulating and controlling the use, occupancy, and maintenance of all residential structures available for rent within the City of Edgewater. This Rental Code establishes minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities; for light, ventilation and occupancy; for plumbing facilities and fixtures; for mechanical and electrical systems; for fire safety; for exits; for pest control; and for the safe and sanitary maintenance of residential properties.

The original intent of this Code was to give renters a tool and an avenue for grievances when dealing with absentee landlords (some call them “slumlords”).  The City was to use this Code as a regulation to enforce standards that are found to be out of compliance.  The City would inspect a rental on a complaint-based status only.  The Code also required landlords to register with the City.  This Code does not apply to renting out rooms if the owner lives in the same house and shares cooking areas with the “roommate”.

The present intent of the Code is to control the property through forced inspections of all rental property by the City.  The landlord is also mandated to apply for a business license with the City.  One of the intentions of forced inspections is to protect low-income renters who are too afraid to complain about sub-par living conditions.  Therefore, if all rental properties were brought up to this Code, then the City will not have any problems.  That is the sentiment.

I support the intent of this Code, but I am very wary of the unintended consequences of the application of this Code.  They are as follows:

  • Gentrification-  The City’s housing stock is rising and rent is going up all over the City.  Could the forced inspections accelerate gentrification?  Would this Code unwittingly force out the people this Code is intended to protect?  The market is already doing that, much like what we’ve seen happening in the Highlands.
  • Could this Code possibly force out “small” landlords because they do not have enough money to comply with the mandated Codes in the time allotted (7-90 days)?  The ordinance does allow for an extension after it is approved the the City’s designated official.
In conclusion, I will try to find balance with this ordinance by listening to ALL stakeholders involved.  When dealing with the economic ramifications of unintended consequences, I will always seek balance with “sustainability vs. gentrification”.


6 Comments on "Renter’s Rights Code"

  1. I have always said that if you can’t afford to give your server a decent tip then you can’t afford to eat at a restaurant. The same goes for landlords. If they can’t afford to maintain their properties in good condition then they can’t afford to be landlords and need to sell the property to someone who is willing and able to take care of it. It is unfortunate that some property owners continue to raise rents to unaffordable levels while not maintaining the property. Tenants have the right to live in clean housing that is in good condition, especially when they’re paying hefty rents. It is unethical and perhaps even immoral to take someone’s money and then not give them the housing conditions they have every right to expect. This isn’t the third world — yet.

  2. Thank you for looking at this issue with eyes open. It’s nothing short of micro managing a system that is already in place. (State and federal renters rights) why do we need a city policy as well. If you start to impose these kinds of rules on one set of home owners why not all . Then we could be a covenant controlled community. If a landlord has to put in egress windows in a basement bedroom , then so do home owners who allow their family members to sleep in said rooms. If they aren’t safe for renters then they shouldn’t be safe for the average homeowner. Homes should not be able to be sold unless said “rules” are imposed. I can see a lot of for sale signs going up if this is passed.. How can you preach that you are in support of the low income kids in our school system, yet impose a set of rules that will make it impossible for them to live in the area? I now have 2 homes that are rentals in the city . If I am made to get a licenses , have the homes inspected every year and have to have them to Your IDEA of “perfect” then the family who is living there at a reduced rate of rent . So, their kids can have a yard, a walk to school and the security of having a house . Will not happen because I will have to raise the rent to a level where they can not afford , forcing them back into the apartment system . So I hope the rest of Council opens their eyes and sees just want a waste of time, money and effort this is.

  3. Gina Gabriel I rent my Edgewater house to renters for the absolute minimum rental payment to make it affordable for my desired renters who are a young couple with a young child just starting out, Their parents live just up the street who help them too. They take wonderful care of my home and If this goes into effect id likely have to sell my house, because with my salary I can’t afford to make the required updates you are mandating here. if I’m forced to raise the rent on my perfect renters I’ll lose them and the city will lose their good citizens. I hand picked my renters and our agreement works for both of us, Please reconsider this proposal because I don’t want to sell my home or lose the couple who take loving care of my house.

  4. John Moreno | Oct 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Reply

    This ordinance is wrong on so many levels. It violates property rights of owners and imposes itself on the privacy of the tenant. It places the government right in the middle of a contract between two consenting parties in many cases the two parties are relatives. Are we to have a government agent regulating tips at a restaurant and thereby determining who can afford to eat out and who can’t as Gaille indicates? As Caryn has already stated there are State and Federal laws regulating the rights of tenants and landlords alike. To make matters worse, the City will out-source the inspections and enforcement of this ordinance to a contractor. That begs the question as to whether this ordinance would be enforced for the “health, safety and welfare of the community” or profit driven.A very interesting statistic provided by Council Person Keegan, 60% of the residential properties in Edgewater are rentals. Are we allowing a minority to impose a regulation, that they themselves cannot comply with, upon the majority? What is driving this ordinance? Four tenant complaints over the last three years. Four complaints out of the 1273 renter occupied units!! That is less than 1/3 0f 1%. That is not a problem with a mandate. Of course there are rumors that abound about the evil “absentee, slumlord” intimidating the poor defenseless tenant. I would propose that there are even more rumors about the “evil drug junkie or alcoholic” tenant destroying the property of the landlord and skipping out on overdue rent. Then again rumors are not facts and should never be considered when passing far reaching legislation.
    In short, this law does nothing for the tenant, the landlord or the community as a whole. It addresses a non-existent problem and will not only create forced government gentrification but will line the pockets of a non-governmental law enforcement contractor.

  5. John Moreno | Oct 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Reply

    I submitted the following letter to Council for their consideration at the next workshop on the Renters Rights Code.

    City Council Members,

    I attended the October 2nd workshop meeting regarding proposed ordinances 17-14 and 18-14. I would like to offer my observations regarding the conversation and informal testimony given during the workshop.

    The vast number of public speakers (landlords, tenants and general public) were opposed to either ordinance in part or in full for a variety of reasons ranging from gentrification, violation of privacy, interference in family arrangements and government over-reach. Only one member of the public spoke in favor of the ordinances and she gave a third hand account about an anonymous tenant with a toilet problem and implied that the landlord has refused to repair the problem. Was the actual tenant at the meeting? If so, then why didn’t the actual tenant stand up and offer testimony? Did the actual tenant even bothered to send Council a written communication to be read into the public record? The answer to both questions is no.

    When the Council and staff were polled by a member of the public about the number of tenant complaints received over the last month only Councilor Laura Keegan admitted to a “couple of complaints”. When polled about complaints over the last year Councilor Todd Riddle stated he “might” of had a “couple of complaints”. In both cases there were no details offered as to the true nature, details and validity of the complaints. We do not even know if these are separate complaints or the same complaints to two different Council members. We do know that there have been very few complaints to Council and none to staff. We also know the number of these unsubstantiated complaints make up only a small fraction of 1% of all tenants.

    Councilor Keegan stated the she did not want to see her anonymous complaining parties “go through one more winter” living in their current horrible conditions. Are these the same anonymous tenants Councilor Keegan brought up in May of 2011? Why weren’t these anonymous tenants at the meeting or at least offering written testimony to be read into the public record? Are these anonymous tenants afraid to come before Council? Are these anonymous tenants being intimidated by their landlord not to testify before Council as Councilor Keegan would have us believe? If so, are these anonymous tenants in fear of some sort of threat from the landlord every time they talk to Councilor Keegan? This would seem to me to be a case of a serious Civil Rights violations or even worse. Has Councilor Keegan reported the situation in detail to the police, considering the seriousness of possible Civil Rights violations? Why haven’t these anonymous tenants moved if living under these conditions since May of 2011 were so intolerable? Has Citizen Laura Keegan, as a compassionate member of society, offered to assist these poor souls in finding a new dwelling? She certainly could have directed them to seek relief and guidance from Brothers Redevelopment. Or is it possible, Councilor Keegan has fabricated these anonymous tenants to further a personal political agenda that is not a reflection of the image the community at large wishes to project? An agenda that calls for government supported gentrification.

    In conclusion, I came away from the workshop with the following observations:

    1. A large and representative group of the community consisting of landlords, tenants and citizens spoke out, in person and writing, against these ordinances. They were seriously concerned about government overreach and community image. They want this legislation tabled indefinitely.
    2. Support for the ordinances came from supposed third or fourth party observations and anonymous victims, real or imagined. We simply have no way of knowing which raises the question of the valid need for such legislation.
    3. This legislation has been before Council for well over three years and during that time it has not substantially changed nor has the provable facts supporting it. It has been tabled and brought back multiple times. Over the past three years it has been unable to garner public support even though it was up for first reading twice and turned back twice. This fundamentally flawed legislation has costs the taxpayer thousands in attorney fees, resources and wasted time.

    In my mind there can only be one conclusion, Council must indefinitely table Ordinances 17-14 and 18-14.
    John Moreno
    2471 Harlan
    Edgewater, CO 80214
    (303) 238-3635

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