CoMo REI

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CoMo REI is all about Real Estate

We are a group of real estate professionals from all aspects of the industry. Our goals are to network, educate, stay on top of standards, trends and relevant legislation. 

Meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month from 6-8PM at the Columbia Country Club, 2210 N Country Club Dr in Columbia, MO.  Attendance is free for members, $10 for non-members and optional buffet dinner is $20.00.

 
 

Short Term Rentals

The City of Columbia, MO is proposing an ordinance to regulate the short term housing market. This includes any rental of a property for less than 31 days, typically using an online platform such as AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway and many others. CoMoREI has followed this process for the past year and been involved at every public meeting the city has held. Below is the official position that CoMoREI has submitted to the City of Columbia.

January 11, 2019

Attn: Rachel Bacon and Patrick Zenner City of Columbia Missouri PO Box 6015 Columbia, MO 65202-6015

Dear Mr. Zenner and Ms. Bacon,

I am writing this letter in response to a proposed change (TMP-10242) to Section 29-1.11 (a) of the Unified Development Code (UDC) regarding Short Term Rentals (STR) within the City of Columbia.

I am a long-term resident, a property owner, and a real estate investor in Columbia. Further, as an appointed officer of the board, I am representing the CoMo REI, a real estate investing club with a membership of 434 real estate investors whose focus is investing in property in and around Columbia. Our members own both long-term and short-term rentals and as such the proposed changes are of great interest to our organization.

Our organization understands the need for regulation so that things like safety and fair business practices, which are in the best interest of the public, can be accomplished. We also recognize the need for leveling the playing field so that STR do not have an unfair tax advantage when competing for customers visiting Columbia. To that end, we support the City in its efforts to develop a fair mechanism to accomplish this. Having said this, we believe that the current approach of modifying the UDC is wrought with problems. The proposed changes are arbitrary, capricious, and they have no place within the current zoning code, especially since zoning deals with “use,” and STR is simply an example of an occupancy status.

I am aware that many of my colleagues will have sent you case law refuting the changes as well as itemized lists of problems with the proposed changes in code, so instead of simply repeating those efforts, I wish to propose a different approach that will address the City’s and public’s concerns while also respecting the rights of property owners.

Our proposal is to abandon the change to the UDC and instead hold owners of STR accountable to the City’s current “Rental Unit Conservation Law, Article V. Sect. 22-181 through Sect. 22-195” (from here forward referred to as the RUCL).

The reasons for this are as follows:

-The RUCL, as written, covers STR, just as it covers any other rentals in that it makes no

mention of length of time of the lease. The law simply states that “It shall be unlawful to operate within the city any apartment house, rooming house, two-family dwelling or single rental unit without a current certificate of compliance.” It is our recommendation that the City simply enforce the current law as it does on long-term rentals (LTR). In short, the City will treat all rentals the same regardless of whether they are short leases or long leases.

-The current RUCL has an administrative structure for support in place with the Office of

Neighborhood Services, as well as a fee structure in place for funding oversight. Should the added workload necessitate additional costs for the office, there is a mechanism in place for raising application and inspection fees.

-The current RUCL has a mechanism in place for ensuring compliance with city ordinances.

Under the current law, owners of rentals must have a “Certificate of Compliance” issued by the City to operate. They must undergo inspections by the City, and they must maintain compliance with the City’s laws, otherwise they can have their “Certificate of Compliance” revoked, and they must cease operating as a rental.

-The current RUCL provides a mechanism for ensuring that rentals are operated safely: owners of these units must undergo inspections of their HVAC systems as well as inspections by the City to ensure that they are meeting code.

-The current RUCL has a mechanism in place for addressing non-compliant (bad) owners.

Not only can they have their “Certificate of Compliance” revoked, they can face significant fines for operating without one. This is important to note because under the law, properties receiving multiple nuisance complaints (e.g. Article IV. Sect. 16-301 through Sect. 16-324) could have their “Certificate of Compliance” revoked. The implication is that this gives neighborhoods an effective mechanism for dealing with STR operated by “bad” operators, which addresses several concerns brought up in public hearings.

-The current RUCL hold owners responsible for not exceeding occupancy limits. Again this

addresses concerns that were brought up in the public hearings.

When the council asked our community to bring suggestions back to the board, the specific request was that there would be some sacrifices on both sides. We feel that our proposal does this. By adopting this stance, owners of STR will now be forced to operate within a regulated environment. This means that they will have government oversight, have fees imposed that didn’t exist in the past, and they will now be held to a higher operating standard.

I would encourage you to take the approach of abandoning the modification of the UDC to deal with short-term rentals and instead enforce the current RUCL laws and hold them to the same high standards that any other rental property is held to in the City. Please feel free to contact me to discuss our position should you have any further questions. I can be reached at (573) 808-4204 or you can contact me by e-mail at JGalen001@gmail.com .

Sincerely,

Jeff Galen Board Member CoMo REI 2000 E. Broadway, Suite 223 Columbia, MO 65201