May 2022 | Page 41

Rental Housing Licenses in Different Municipalities

By Brian Strandes

Many municipalities across Colorado have minimum habitability standards for rental properties written into their housing or rental codes . Whether focusing on specific electrical or HVAC requirements or on more general wellbeing and safety , all these standards are intended to make rental properties safe for the public .

While the basics of these codes are similar , the way that cities enforce and / or check for violations vary substantially . Some municipalities use internal city inspectors ( Westminster ) to verify compliance , while others ( Boulder and Denver ) use private , independent , outsourced inspectors to perform the checks . Inspection frequency ranges from yearly to every four years depending upon the municipality and the age of the building . In lieu of a licensing program , cities use a passive system of compliance that is compliant driven , if a renter files a complaint , the city may then require an inspection to address the complaint .
Differing enforcement of standards can create uncertainty in what defines “ habitability ”. How can companies ensure they comply with different standards in different municipalities ? The City of Denver set a new standard on May 3 , 2021 , the City Council passed a new ordinance DRMC , 27-192 requiring a Residential Rental Property license for any person to offer , provide , or operate a residential rental property in the City and County of Denver . “ Healthy Residential Rentals for All ” is intended to ensure that rentals meet code requirements for habitable housing and safety .
There are two steps to comply with the application process , starting with the requirement that all Rental Property owners provide a copy of the DENVER TENANT RIGHTS AND RESOURCES to all tenants when a lease is signed AND when a rent demand is served .
The second step requires that anyone who offers , provides , or operates a rental residential property consisting of two or more rental dwelling units must obtain a license by January 1 , 2023 . To apply for this license , owners must have their property inspected by a professional who meets strict qualification requirements set by the City . Any inspections performed by an unqualified inspector are invalid and will not be accepted by Denver . Inspector requirements are strict and there are few certified inspectors in Colorado .
Owners and managers of rental properties in Colorado have an obligation to be aware of and maintain properties in a way to meet these minimum habitability requirements . The responsibilities of the owner / manager will include :
1 . Ensure the inspectors ’ certifications are current , and that they meet the city ’ s minimum qualifications to perform the service .
2 . Reviewing their lease agreements regarding unit access for inspection .
3 . Assimilate and present the inspection reports with the application for the license .
The application , inspection , and the submission process for rental licenses are variable from city to city . All have the common theme of ensuring that the minimum housing standards are met , and that the environment is safe for tenants . Municipalities will continue to increase the regulation in the rental housing industry . Boulder requires an energy audit with each inspection , inspects each unit , and light pollution is included as an inspection item . Federal Heights has a six-page form with 50 + items and Denver has a two-page form with a fourteen-page handbook and 26 items to check . The trend is for more municipal licensing in the rental housing industry , increasing transparency regarding tenant rights , and a minimum standard for habitability , and focusing on tenant rights and owner / manager responsibilities .
Brian Strandes is the Director at CCI , Colorado Compliance Inspections www . aamdhq . org MAY 2022 TRENDS | 39