Sunday, May 3, 2015

Renting in Community

I recently worked with a community that wanted to tackle the issue of renting. Did they want to leave the matter solely up to owners, or did the community want to have say in how that went? 

It occurred to me that this was an excellent example of a topic that was both complex and potentially volatile, so the group and I put some effort into thinking through the kinds of questions that the group might usefully address in order to have a comprehensive policy. Following is what we came up with. While each question may not be potent, or necessarily challenging to answer, our aim was to generate a list that would cover the waterfront.

A.  How important is it that renting be in compliance with local building code and occupancy laws?
B.  Renters impact parking. To what extent should they have the same access to parking as owners?
C.  Should the formula by which homeowner dues are calculated take into account rental units? If so, how?
D.  In what ways should policy differ if the rental is whole house, or rooms in an owner-occupied house?
E.  To what extent should rental units be allowed because they make living in the community more affordable for the owners?
F.  Rental units in some houses increase the assessed valuation of all homes in the community. To what extent, if any, should the increased tax burden on homes without rentals be supported by those that have rental units?
G.  What say should the community have in who is being rented to?
H.  Do you want renters to be involved in community life? If so, how do you want to accomplish that?
I.  Should there be any limits on renters’ access to common facilities and community activities?
J.  What responsibility should the community have for orienting renters to community life? What portion of this can be expected of owners?
K.  Should renters be introduced to the community? If so, how?
L.  Is there a safety issue with renters? If so, how can that be dealt with?
M.  Should there be an upper limit on renters to protect the viability of the community? If so, what is it and how will rental options be rationed among owners?
N. To what extent does renter policy and expectations change by length of rental (say, less than 90 days)?
O.  Does whole house renting beyond a certain number impact ability to get mortgages?
P.  What are the positives about renters?
Q.  Impact on community resources
R.  How will we handle situations where renters are not compliant with community norms and agreements?
S.  To what extent are landlord/owners responsible for what their renters do?
T.  What is the community's liability with renters?
U.  How to balance community interests and private rights
V.  Do we want/need a community member to be a liaison for each renter?
W.  How to ensure that our renter policy feels good as a package?
X.  What does “renter” mean (as distinct from guest)?

Y.  How do we take into account lovers, guests, pets, etc that often accompany a renter?

Our plan for addressing these was to tackle one strand at a time, developing the best answer we could before moving on to the next. Recognizing that the answer to one strand might depend on the answer to another that has not yet been addressed, we agreed to assume that we have a satisfactory response to unaddressed strands when and then proceeding. 

To the extent that some strands seem more foundational than others, it may make sense to be deliberate about the sequence in which they'll be considered, keeping in mind that eventually they'll all need to be addressed. (Note: the order in which the strands are listed above is arbitrary.) Further, it may make sense to clump a few strands to be considered simultaneously, though I cautioned the group about the dangers of trying to take too large a bite at once—they can be difficult to chew and swallow.

No comments: