Building Commissioner Rob Morra, head of the table
The Rental Bylaw Implementation Group heard nothing but good news this afternoon from Building Commissioner Rob Morra: All 1,261 rental properties in the the bustling little college town of Amherst are now in full compliance with the bylaw overwhelmingly passed by Amherst Town Meeting last May.
Morra told the committee that originally using assessor records the number of rental properties was pegged at 1,575. After the first bulk mailing, however, about 300 let it be known that they do not rent out any part of their property.
Taking a hint from President Reagan the Building Commissioner used a "trust but verify" methodology to confirm they were indeed not renting, and he continues to keep those properties on a "watch list".
About 30 property owners out of the 1,261 did not take the bylaw seriously and continued to ignore requests to come into compliance. They were issued $100/day fines and soon enough ALL of them became believers.
But not before $8,000 was collected in fines, with the most stubborn landlord accounting for about $3,000 of that.
In total, the Rental Permit Bylaw has generated $126,100 in registration permit fees ($100 per property times 1,261) plus the $8,000 in fines for a total of $134,100 this Fiscal Year, FY14.
Yellow pins indicate APD actions taken
The other equally major piece of good news is the town website for all things rental now shows properties that have been warned or cited (or arrested) by APD for noise and or nuisance complaints over the last year or so.
Neighbors can now track the major offenders. Once three complaints appear under a yellow pin in a single location, that property is potentially subject to a revocation of the rental permit.