As the city of Dearborn looks for possible actions on the issue of rental housing, one solution that stands out is to limit the number of rental homes allowed in the city.
The newly formed Rental Housing Task Force–which is comprised of elected officials, administrators, residents and landlords–is working to set policies for landlords, improve codes, and explore ways to improve the overall environment in the city. Part of what will be explored is enacting ordinances that could restrict the number of rental homes available in the city.
Mayor Jack O’Reilly said that because of the economy–and the increase in registered properties–the city should identify ways to encourage code compliance among landlords, and if possible, cap the number of registered rental homes in the city.
"There’s a tipping point with rental homes when you have all sorts of problems, and we don’t want that to happen in Dearborn,” he said. “We’re going to see what we can come up with.”
Nick Siroskey, the director of residential services for the city, said a legal precedent for rental caps was set in East Lansing, when an ordinance implementing an overlay district that effectively limits rental licenses.
“There is a precedent for rental limits,” he said. “We need to find out if a limit is needed, and if so, what that limit would be.”
Mary Petlichoff, the president of the Dearborn Federation of Neighborhood Associations, said a cap might be greeted positively by homeowners.
“The number of rental properties has been one of the major concerns as the city moves ahead with its master plan discussions,” she said. “People are definitely concerned about the rentals because of their own property values.”
The prospect of a cap would be a mistake because of shifting ideas about homeownership, said Clay Powell, the president of the Rental Property Owners of Michigan.
“Because so many people are recognizing the need to be mobile – not to mention those that have been affected by the economy – I think we’ll see a rise in the number of people looking to rent,” he said. “So a cap may go against the trend of what people want.”
Dearborn landlord Barb Bechard, who owns several properties with her husband Frank, also said a cap is bad idea because renters that may not be able to immediately purchase a home still provide economic activity.
"Rentals bring people to the community," she said. "They shop at the stores in the city and they go to schools."
What do you think?