Denver will drive landlords to acquire licenses to hire their properties

The full implementation of the program will take a few years.

Renting out real estate in Denver gets a little trickier.

Denver City Council approved a new program on Monday that requires landlords to obtain a property rental license. Lawmakers said the licensing program will help the city get a clearer picture of its rental portfolio and enforce basic living conditions for tenants.

City Council President Stacie Gilmore, who introduced the bill, said it took two years to make. She said it focuses on tenant rights and protection.

“For the first time in Denver history, the Healthy Home Rental License will provide us with significant tenant protection for all,” Gilmore said, referring to the bill’s official name.

Denver joins cities like Portland and Seattle to set up rental licensing programs. Cities like Boulder and Westminster have similar programs.

Denver’s housing stock includes nearly 520,000 properties and units. More than a third are rents according to 2019 figures.

The program would require property owners to obtain licenses that must be renewed every four years and licenses for single family homes, condominiums, townhouses and apartment complexes (the program does not charge per apartment unit, but for each package). Each license costs $ 50, with the cost of multi-unit complexes increasing. Gilmore said fees had been kept relatively low to ensure they weren’t passed on to renters.

Inspections would be required to obtain a license and rebuild and whether the property is being sold or changing hands. The inspections would be based on minimum housing standards set out in existing city laws. Violating the rules can cost landlords up to $ 1,000 per violation or their license total, meaning they cannot legally rent their space.

Councilor Paul Kashmann said he supported the effort, but most of the landlords he spoke to had concerns about the inspection requirement.

The rollout of the program will have phases beginning with early licensing, which will be available through January 2022. If and when the bill is signed by Mayor Michael Hancock, the new law requires all rental housing units to be licensed by January 1, 2024.

Councilor Candi CdeBaca tried unsuccessfully to introduce two changes to the bill that would have changed the license start date and fee structure to require licenses for each residential unit rather than an entire package. The council members both refused.

The Denver Metro Association of Realtors and the Apartment Association of Metro Denver rejected the bill, citing costs, inspection issues, and the bill’s impact on affordability.

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