Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rent-Leveling the Playing Field

LTE writer Michael Silverman suggests that Greensboro establish a rent-levelling board to handle landlord-tenant disputes:

The board members consisted of three landlords, three tenants and three homeowners all appointed by the city council. The board also maintained an attorney. We met monthly in town hall, and after each meeting the public was invited to bring concerns before the board stemming from either tenant or landlord issues. The board heard all parties and made a legal binding decision either for or against the landlord or tenant involved. For the many apartment complexes within Greensboro, it would be a service to the thousands of residents if such a board were implemented in Greensboro.
I'd never heard of rent-leveling boards before, and my intensive research indicates that they're all in New Jersey.

I think it would be a good thing if renter-landlord problems could be brought into a hearing where tenants and landlords would have to show their faces to deal with disputes. As Greensboro rental law now stands, many landlords are able to maintain substandard property for years on end with few bad consequences for themselves, and landlords have almost no recourse against deadbeat or destructive tenants.

But the rent-leveling boards of New Jersey seem to have been established to handle rent increases in rent-controlled properties, and we don't have rent control here in North Carolina. I imagine that the Devil will be buying a polar fleece anorak from REI before rent control comes here. And I'm pretty sure that the city would need an enabling law from the NC state legislature before it could establish another quasi-judicial board.

1 comment:

Billy The Blogging Poet said...

Maybe we can't have a rent-leveling board but I'm far from being out of ammo. Here's an idea, why not establish incentives and disincentives to bring slumlords inline?

We could start with huge fines for violations (twice the monthly rent each month) as an incentive to get the slumlords to sell the properties to homeowners who are willing to live in the homes.

And if the slumlord doesn't pay the fine it gets added to the tax assessment due each year.