Mandatory rental registration plan headed for City Council vote

But some want a voluntary system

By: Scott Baughman//May 11, 2012//

Mandatory rental registration plan headed for City Council vote

But some want a voluntary system

By: Scott Baughman//May 11, 2012//

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Every owner of rental property in Charlotte would have to register with a city database by July 1, 2013, as part of a proposal that is heading for a City Council vote next month.

Last week, in a 4-0 vote, the council’s public safety committee gave its support to the proposal, which calls for rental property owners to give the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department their contact information, including business and home addresses and phone numbers.

Some real estate industry officials, though, don’t think the proposal is the best solution.

City officials say the citywide registration would help police track down owners of rental properties at which crimes and other public nuisances are taking place.

Under current policy, only rental properties considered to be the biggest offenders when it comes to crimes are required to register with the city. But the CMPD has complained about a lack of citywide registration, saying it would make it easier to locate landlords and, therefore, crack down on violators.

“We voted roughly a year ago to begin voluntary registration for rental property owners with the police department, but we just are not getting the participation we need,” Councilman Andy Dulin, a member of the public safety committee, said. “Now, we’ve voted to recommend to council to make it mandatory.”

In addition to Dulin, the other committee members who voted for mandatory registration: Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon and Beth Pickering.

Some in the real estate industry are against the idea of making all rental property owners register. The Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition, a Charlotte-based lobbying group, said in a May 4 posting on its blog that it and the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association and the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association have been “actively lobbying council members for a voluntary citywide program, which we believe would provide CMPD with the information they need to protect our neighborhoods without encroaching on privacy rights.”

According to the blog posting, rental property owners would not be charged a fee to register, thanks to a state law that was adopted last year banning local governments from having fee-based registration programs for all rental properties.

Dulin, a Republican, said voting for mandatory registration was not easy for him.

“I hate more regulations and paperwork for property owners,” he said. “But we have to keep our citizens safe.”

Dulin said he doesn’t expect property owners to protest the proposal when the full council votes on it.

“There are hundreds of rental property owners who are doing business completely well in Charlotte,” he said. “But the small minority who just chase after $600 in rent from anyone who will give it to them are causing problems for all property owners. We want those property owners to ask themselves, ‘Who is a good tenant for the kind of neighborhood where I am renting property?’

“In the end, this will help all property owners as we hold people accountable for who they choose as tenants.”

BAUGHMAN can be reached at [email protected].

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