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Rental Registration Update — Thank Carl Smart

The Austin City Council recently passed two resolutions relating to rental registration.  The first was offered by Council Member Spelman, and it calls for the City Manager to initiate Code amendments for stiffer penalties for repeat violators of public health and safety codes and to require certain repeat offenders to register with the City.  The second was offered by Council Member Tovo, and it calls for the City Manager to develop a one-year pilot registration program for certain residential rental property in the areas of North Austin Civic Association, Restore Rundberg, East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood, Central Austin Neighborhood Advisory Committee Planning Areas, Hyde Park, Northfield, and North Loop.

The Tovo resolution specifically addresses stealth dorms. However, its primary thrust is multifamily properties, which the Austin Code Compliance Department has interpreted to mean triplexes and larger.  With respect to duplexes and houses, the ordinance directs the program to “identify conditions under which registration for single family or duplex rental properties would be required.” At a meeting hosted July 16th by the Code Compliance Department, Director Carl Smart indicated that they are considering repeat offenses as a possible trigger of registration for duplexes and houses.

Code Compliance is soliciting input from the public. Those of us who are interested in the stealth dorm problem are encouraged to write or email Carl Smart, thank him, and encourage him to devote resources to the stealth dorm problem, and in particular to implementing a practical and effective program for forcing bad actor building owners to register under the rental registration program.  One method of giving your input is to go, before the end of July, online at Speak Up Austin on the City’s Web site.

On July 30th there will be a public meeting before the Building and Standards Commission where public input is welcomed.

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