Penalties for home renters discussed at council meeting

On June 3, the East Lansing City Council introduced ordinance 1335, which would provide more security for renters of homes in the city.

The council also approved the scheduling of a public hearing for the amendment, allowing citizens to voice their opinion on the issue.

The amendment would make changes to the current property maintenance code of the City of East Lansing. The changes would affect how the city addresses renting violations.

The ordinance currently allows for tickets to be issued to owners of rental homes on a daily basis, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said.

If the changes are made "we will have the penalty fit the infraction," Lahanas said.

The proposal would create a new section in the code, which would set caps for how many citations can be given based on how much was potentially collected or saved by the rental house owner.

If approved, the city hopes these amendments will prevent homeowners to rent out a home without the proper permits.

Without these permits, renters, many of whom are students, could potentially find themselves in an unsavory home. 

"With the great deal of rental pressure (in East Lansing), if you wanted to rent-out something cheap and substandard you would be able to do that," Lahanas said. "Therefore an all trades inspection is required before a house can be rented. This make sure the house is safe and provides a great deal of confidence in rental stock."

Rental pressure has been a serious issue for students hoping to rent in East Lansing. Each year, students set up camps outside leasing offices in order to secure their home. 

The State News previously reported that some students who camp out are still unable to buy the homes they want and are offered leases for other homes blindly.

While the ordinance as it currently stands does not make these definitions, the city has been using similar metrics for some time, City Attorney Tom Yeadon said.

"They (council) wanted in writing as to how we have been conduction these citations for a long period of time," Yeadon said. "It's nothing different than what we have been arguing to the courts ... now it will just been in an ordinance."

The public hearing is set for July 8 where it will be decided on by council.

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