The North Salt Lake City Council is currently considering a program that would reward landlords of apartment buildings and duplexes to do more background checks on potential tenants, and by extension not rent to those who had been convicted of a drug or criminal violations within the past three years.
Though the program has been tabled while the city staff takes a closer look at the study that inspired it, the main concept behind the program won’t change.
“It’s really an increase in cooperation and communication with landlords to increase the quality of our city’s rental units,” said North Salt Lake Community Development Director Ken Leetham.
The plan, which is already being used in Clearfield and Layton, comes from a disproportionate fee study done by the city, which analyzes the amount of resources different businesses cost the city compared to how much the city is charging them for various fees.
“Certain types of businesses take more city resources than others,” said Leetham. Those businesses then may be assessed higher licensing fees to make up the difference.
In the study, they found that rental units stood out when it came to public safety calls.
“There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of police work associated with the complexes,” said North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave.
The second look at the study, which is currently being done, will determine whether this is true for both larger apartment complexes and smaller duplex/fourplex buildings.
Both types of buildings were lumped together in the original study, but the council wants to be certain that the numbers back that up.
“We don’t want to penalize the landlords of smaller units if the data doesn’t support it,” said Leetham.
If the plan ends up being approved by the council, the landlords of whatever multi-family units end up falling under the program’s jurisdiction would be required to go through the extra time and monetary effort of screening potential tenants.
In exchange, the city would lower their business license fees with the understanding that the increase screening would lower disturbances.
The agreement would extend past the initial renting of the apartment as well.
The city would be expected to keep landlords informed about whether there were any public safety issues with any of their tenants, giving the landlord the chance to take appropriate action.
The council is expected to take another look at the program after the data on larger complexes versus smaller rental units comes back in, but there’s currently no set date for when that might happen.