College Station City Council Beefs Up Ordinance On Rental Registrations

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COLLEGE STATION - A College Station City ordinance on rental registrations has new teeth that will allow the city to fine property owners up to $500 a day for not registering their rental homes and duplexes.

At least one city council member thinks the tougher ordinance goes too far.

The City of College Station is looking to crack down on people violating the city's rental registration program.

Since 2008 the city has required that people pay a $15 fee to register homes, duplexes, and smaller properties for rent.

But not everyone is registering.

"We have several willful violators of our law. We are a law abiding city, people need to obey the rules," said College Station City Council Member James Benham Thursday night.

He was in agreement with many of the recommendations proposed by staff, but voted against the revisions Thursday night due to a new requirement allowing the city to review copies of leases by request.

"I'm in the software business. I really don't care for the government to request a copy of my private party contracts," he said.

The council approved the revisions in a six to one vote.

Since 2008 the city has requested to review leases only 18 times and most of the time people were willing to share.

Debbie Eller is the Director of Community Services for the city and says the leases could be looked at when investigating code violations.

Rules already in place don't allow for more than four unrelated people in a rental home.

"We are not requesting copies but we can review the lease upon request... The administrative appeals process should be able to be a more efficient process for staff and to process those violations through the court," Eller explained.

The revisions to the ordinance take effect in 45 days following the vote.

The Code Enforcement Department also hopes to expand and add additional officers to take a more proactive role.

The department lost several code enforcement officers due to budget cuts about three years ago.