City OKs draft of rental ordinance

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Austin City Council received and preliminarily approved a draft rental ordinance. The ordinance would require property owners to designate a rental manager for their properties, register with the city of Austin and attend a mandatory rental property education class, all free of charge.

The council has discussed the measure for years but took action last month on a proposed draft rental ordinance similar to one city staff crafted in 2011. The Austin Area Landlords Association supported the registration ordinance in 2011 and did so again Monday night.

The ordinance won’t come into effect for a while, however. The council won’t formally approve a rental ordinance until Community Development Director Craig Hoium’s department is back up to full staff. Hoium said he expected to hire a new, full-time city inspector over the next few weeks and a part-time inspector after that. It could take several months before the council approves the new ordinance.

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The ordinance would require all Austin rental property owners and managers to register with the city. In addition, city departments would come together to create a mandatory educational program for owners and managers that covers owner and tenant rights. Once landlords and managers take the class, they are certified with the city. City officials say the registration process and class would be free.

Under the recommendations, city inspections would continue as they have, on a complaint-only basis. However, owners and managers that repeatedly violate the city’s housing policies would be cited more often, and continued housing complaints could result in licensing and/or a scheduled inspection housing program, among other things.

This approach is similar to the 2011 registration ordinance the council previously pursued, according to Hoium. One of its biggest goals is to create more communication between the city and rental property owners.