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Round Two for Grand Rapids Rental Application Ordinance

Owners and PM’s Should Plan to Attend City Commission Meeting

The RPOA has been involved in several meetings in an attempt to hone a rental application ordinance that the rental industry can live with. Homes for All, an advocacy group in Grand Rapids, has been pushing hard for a ban or cap on application fees. So far, with strong push back from the RPOA, this has not made it into the ordinance.

Negotiations with the City staff have resulted in some improvements to parts of the original ordinance but other proposed changes are less exciting. Here is a look at what the amended ordinance may include:

  • Before taking an application fee, the owner must disclose the written criteria used for screening and the amount of the fee.
  • The fee for the application must be disclosed in any advertisement or posting related to the marketing of the rental.
  • The owner shall use “fully transparency” of the following at the time the application is made as it relates to the application, screening and fees in the following ways:
    • Provide a copy of the criteria.
    • Provide the amount of the fee.
    • Provide a breakdown of the fee and how much the cost is for each of the following items, if applicable (the cost cannot include anything other than these items):
        • National/state and/or local criminal background check
        • Credit report.
        • Rental history check/verification.
        • Reference checks/verification.
        • Eviction record search.
        • Employment verification.
        • Provide copies of any paperwork or electronic correspondence generated as a result of the screening process-when available or allowable by law.
        • Within 30 days of receipt of a denial (letter or verbally), the applicant may, if she or he believes the ordinance has been violated, file a written complaint with the City Manager’s office.
        • Application fees may not exceed the aggregate cost of:Provide a breakdown of the fee and how much the cost is for each of the following items, if applicable (the cost cannot include anything other than these items):
          • National/state and/or local criminal background check.
          • Credit report
          • Rental history check/verification.
          • Reference checks/verification.
          • Eviction record search.
          • Employment verification.

Note: The staff time to do these things can be included in each of these costs.

  • The owner must refund the entire application fee if the applicant was denied for any reason not included in the criteria.
  • For any applicant that did not go through the screening process, the fee must be returned.
  • If the fee is returned, the owner must return the fee in one of the following forms to the applicant:
        • In the manner in which it was paid.
        • Or, by check.
        • Or, by money order.
        • Or, by cashier’s check.

The actual final version of the amended ordinance will not be available until Friday, July 6 at the City of Grand Rapids website here. Make a note that the amended version will not be available until Friday the 6th. Once on the website page for the City Commission-Regular Session on July 10, open the agenda packet. There will be a lot of pages to scroll through to find the amended ordinance. The RPOA plans to email the amended version of the ordinance to all members on Monday, July 9 and a summary of the RPOA’s position.

RPOA members and property management companies are encouraged to attend the July 10, City Commission meeting to express their support or opposition to the amended ordinance. Those pushing for a more punitive or restrictive ordinance will be on hand in large numbers to push the Commission to ban or cap fees.

Editor’s Note: Since the final draft of the amended ordinance was not available at the time of the writing of this article, the RPOA does not yet have a formal position on this newest version of the ordinance. The RPOA was neutral on the previous version as presented last month on June 12. The RPOA Governmental Affairs Committee will take up the discussion on the RPOA’s position at their regular meeting on Monday, July 9.

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