BY ALICIA ROBINSON STAFF WRITER
August 13, 2013; 06:24 PM
Riverside homeowners will now need a permit to rent a house to more than two people, after the City Council voted Tuesday, Aug. 13, to change the rules.
Property owners can still rent homes to as many as four tenants in single-family zones, but only two are now allowed by right.
The city will give owners information about codes and regulations and have them fill out a one-page form to rent to three or four tenants. No fee will be charged.
There’s a need in Riverside both for affordable rental units and better enforcement of existing rules, Councilman Ken Gutierrez acknowledged, and the permit rule won’t solve everything.
“It’s an additional tool that we can use,” he said. “It does no harm. It may help.”
The urgency rule, which the council approved 5-2, takes effect immediately. Councilmen Paul Davis and Andy Melendrez cast the dissenting votes.
The suggestion to require permits for rental houses was one of many ideas city officials have discussed to address complaints about unruly tenants in homes near UC Riverside.
Police have vowed stricter enforcement of noise complaints and underage drinking, and code enforcement officials said they will pay closer attention to code issues in the area. UCR officials have said they’ll work to better control school-sponsored events and educate students about city and school rules.
Davis spoke for many in the audience of about 100 people that included homeowners, students and landlords, when he asked to table a decision and study more alternatives.
“We’re in no hurry here, and I don’t want to look like it’s focusing strictly (on) the students,” Davis said.
Several UCR students and recent graduates told the council that renting a room in a house is the most affordable option in Riverside. They questioned the city’s fairness in making the decision during the summer when few students are in town to have input.
City officials said they were rushing to pass the rule so it would be in place before UCR’s school year begins in September, but they noted that it will apply to any renters in single-family zones citywide.
Two representatives of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County warned the council that the rule could violate state or federal fair housing laws because it could be construed as discriminating against students.
“Let us get together, let us talk about it, let us bring you back some solid recommendations, rather than continue to do the band-aid effect,” Fair Housing Council Executive Director Rose Mayes said.
The new rule is intended to hold landlords more accountable by giving them a permit that could be revoked if there are three code violations on their property in a one-year period. Anyone without the permit would only be allowed two tenants in a single-family home.
Officials said landlords who have existing leases with tenants must still apply for the permits, but the city could not interfere by revoking the permit until any existing contracts end.
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