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The Daily Tar Heel

Area Landlords Fear Consequences of Ordinance, $10 Fee

But advocates say the new rental licensing program won't pass costs on to renters and that more accountability will benefit renters.

"We're against it," Staccio said quickly. "I don't think the ordinance deals with the issues. They should enforce the laws already in the books."

And Staccio is not alone in this opinion.

The new rental licensing ordinance, passed by the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday, makes landlords' housing code violations available online and all landlord records available for renters. Landlords will have to fill out a registration form and obtain a $10 rental license starting Jan. 1, 2003.

All records will be available at the Chapel Hill Town Hall.

Property manager Heather Brown of Walden at Greenfields at 103 Melville Loop said the ordinance puts the burden of a small number of delinquent landlords on the whole community.

"Because of a few bad apples in our community, ultimately cost will be spread to all consumers," Brown said.

Staccio said she thinks that landlords will be unfairly targeted and that renters now will have to pay more to offset the landlords' $10 fee.

"This will directly affect residents," Staccio said. "There will be an increase in overhead cost."

But Lee Conner, a UNC law and business graduate student, said any increase in cost to renters is unjustified because the ordinance is not designed to increase rent fees. Conner sat on the Rental Licensing Task Force that crafted the proposal for the Town Council.

"Any landlord that substantially increases rent and blames it on (rental licensing) simply wants to increase their profit," Conner said. "The fee is $10 a year. That's 83 cents a month.

"The landowners who increase rent are upset they're being regulated. No one likes to be accountable."

Brown said she fears the ordinance will have a negative impact on Chapel Hill's rental market.

"(The ordinance will make) Chapel Hill apartment communities less desirable than our competition in neighboring counties," Brown said.

But Town Council member Edith Wiggins said property renters in Chapel Hill deserve the right to see past performance of landlords regardless of the consequences to the property owners. "Sharing information is our responsibility. We want to get information out."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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