Homeowners near UC Riverside say they’re concerned the character of their neighborhood is irreparably changing as more homes become rentals. But how many homes actually are rented?
It’s hard to say. So far, information on how many of the homes are owner-occupied and how many are rentals has been either anecdotal or conflicting. But one way to check is business tax certificates, which the city requires anyone who owns rental property to get.
Business tax certificates (often called business licenses) are required for owners of apartments and condos, but also for people who rent out single-family homes, unless they also live in the home. The statistics I got from the city are interesting, but mostly for what they don’t include.
A spreadsheet the city provided showed 196 business tax certificates for single-family home rentals on file as of mid-July. (That’s citywide, not just in the University neighborhood.)
Who’s not on the list? For starters, the five addresses that have gotten citations since 2009 for having more than the four renters the city allows.
Likewise, no certificates were on file for any of eight UCR-area houses I found advertised for rent on Zillow.com on Tuesday.
And – though the connection gets a little thinner here – I didn’t see business tax listings for 18 houses on nine streets where the city has given building permits to add extra bedrooms since mid-2011.
(The caveat to that one is that the building permits don’t say whether the home is rented, so the owner could be adding bedrooms for their own large family, but that seems unlikely in most cases.)
Glynnis McKinley, who owns a rental house on West Campus View Drive, said the city ought to do more to educate people about business tax filings. She and her husband created a holding company for their business, which includes rentals elsewhere in the city, so the Campus View house is covered by that business tax certificate, she said.
But the McKinleys moved out of the Campus View house because of noise from UCR (the house backs up to an athletic field), and the business license “was something that I wasn’t aware that we should have,” she said. “If we didn’t have the business I would have never thought to do that.”
Riverside Assistant Finance Director Scott Catlett said the city does compliance checks to see if those who should have business licenses indeed have them, but those tend to focus on companies that sell products or services or can otherwise be tracked through sales.
“The challenge with home rentals is it’s not really something that someone pays sales taxes for,” he said. “That’s not something that there’s a database somewhere that we can access.”
If just a quick internet search and some cross-referencing of city data showed that as many as 31 homes, mostly in the University area, may need business licences and not have them, I imagine there are more around Riverside.
Not all tenants or landlords cause problems, but if Riverside is ever to get a handle on issues with the ones that are irresponsible, it would help to have accurate data on how many rental homes they’re dealing with.
I’ll be writing more on this topic, as there are other sources of data on owner-occupied vs. rented homes. Stay tuned.