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ASMSUs lack of landlord input leads council to delay ordinance

April 5, 2001

While the ASMSU landlord-tenant ordinance has East Lansing City Council’s attention, the council’s view on the issue is still unclear.

Last week, the undergraduate student government sent a letter to the city council laying out the ordinance’s plan, but East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said initial discussion with council members last week hasn’t provided any insight.

“I don’t think they have any impression on the ordinance at all,” Meadows said.

The ASMSU proposal would prohibit landlords from showing an apartment or home to prospective tenants or forcing renewal of a lease until one-third of the lease has passed.

However, at its meeting last week, the council raised concerns about ASMSU’s lack of landlord input and referred to East Lansing city staff as one of the reasons behind the proposal’s delay.

When ASMSU officials began working on the ordinance in December, they requested the help of city staff, but said they obtained little results or feedback.

“ASMSU could have sent that letter at any point and time,” Councilmember Sam Singh said. “The reality was that the city staff was waiting for ASMSU.”

But Joe Mignano, ASMSU director of community affairs, said the student government wanted to get assistance from East Lansing city attorneys on the matter as well as wait for a public hearing to obtain the viewpoints of numerous landlords instead of several.

“I probably should have got a feel for it sooner,” Mignano said. “But, if it is something I had worked out with one landlord, I would have to work it out with all the landlords.”

Still, Mignano was surprised at the council’s reaction to the issue.

“I was sort of caught off guard by what they did,” he said. “I expected the city council to be more receptive.”

As for the questioning of the undergraduate student government, Singh said it is a normal process for any ordinance.

“It’s kind of a new issue for us, so I think there is going to be questions over the ramifications of an ordinance like this,” Singh said.

Despite its recent introduction, Singh and Councilmember Beverly Baten said they could support the ordinance.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Baten said. “Yes, students come and go, but they have their rights as residents of East Lansing.

“Profiling students is wrong.”

Meanwhile, the ordinance has been referred to the East Lansing Housing Commission and will be discussed during its next meeting on April 19. The commission can hold public hearings for the ordinance and recommend it to the city council for a vote.

But, Singh said it is unlikely any public forums will occur until May.

“(The Housing Commission) could decide that this is something that could be slated for September so a more significant voice for tenants can be heard.”

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