The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 1st

Town May Log Rental Complaints

The Rental Licensing Task Force presented the council with its recommendations at Monday's regular meeting.

Recommendations focused on the Rental Licensing Program -- a complaint-driven system where renters can log any problems they have with their landlord or property and vice versa. Task force members say this will help enforce the existing housing code.

The task force's suggestions include the creation of a database, which could be accessed from the town's Web site. This database would provide renters with information from the applications of the landlord. It also would give renters the opportunity to comment on their landlords as well as provide residents a way to screen landlords before signing a contract with them.

But Town Council member Pat Evans, who is also a landlord, voiced concern about the database and its cost. She said she is afraid people could hurt an owner's image with the system. "What other kinds of ways will the database be used or abused?" Evans asked.

UNC student and task force member Lee Conner said the plan, including the purchase of the database program, would not be so costly and could not be abused.

"It's not possible to complain on the database, because it only allows violations, looked at by the building inspector, to be posted," he said. "The whole plan was structured using low costs, and I don't believe the cost will be deal-breaking in any way."

Conner said the plans for residents to rent would not be affected by the cost. He also said the town presently has no database, and it does not track violations of landlords. But with this database, that will be possible, he said.

The council referred the recommendations to Town Manager Cal Horton.

"The town staff will review recommendations and come back to the Town Council with a proposed process for implementations," Horton said. "We haven't made any evaluations of the recommendations as of now."

Horton also said he thinks it will probably be two to three months before he and his staff will present these revisions and suggestions to the council again.

Town Council and task force member Edith Wiggins said all of the recommendations are just thoughts.

She said no decision has been made on the issue and one will not be made until after the plan has been implemented and reviewed again. "I think the plan will be passed," she said. "There were some concerns, but not many."

Wiggins said concerns included whether the plan will be an added cost to the town, if it will apply to owners who rent out rooms in their own homes and if it will apply to large apartment complexes.

Conner said he knew there wouldn't be a decision Monday night, so he wasn't disappointed. "I was very pleased with the discussion, all the questions from the council were answered, and there were none asked that would have put a hole in the plan.

"Passing this plan looks very hopeful."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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