A Little History..
The City of Centerfield had been receiving complaints regarding some of the rental properties within the city. A group of residents approached the City Council with the concern that several of these properties were being used for criminal activities. In the spring of 2014, Centerfield City commissioned Zions Bank Public Finance to conduct a business license fee study, as part of an evaluation of our business licensing structure. A copy of that study can be found here.
As part of this study, the frequency of calls for police, fire, and emergency medical services in the city were analyzed. The study found that, on average, rental properties required these public services more than other residences. In other words, it was discovered that rental properties were linked to higher levels of criminal activities. We wish to reduce the cost to taxpayers, by creating an environment where the need for these elevated police and city services will decrease.
In response to this study, the Centerfield City Council voted to adopt our “Good Landlord Program”. This program is similar to others that have been adopted by cities throughout Utah with great success. Every city that has adopted this program has shown a reduction in crime in their communities.
What is the Good Landlord Program?
In a nutshell- a Good Landlord Program aims at reducing crime within the community while reducing the cost of police services to the taxpayer.
Landlords who volunteer to join the Good Landlord Program agree to engage in responsible renting practices, which attract good residents to our community. Participating landlords may not rent to individuals that have been involved in recent or ongoing criminal activity, and they must evict any tenant who is found to be participating in any criminal activity. The practices are mutually beneficial to to the landlord, and the community. These requirements contribute to an environment where crime may be reduced, therefore reducing the cost of police services to the taxpayer. Additionally, a Good Landlord Program offers financial incentives to landlords for participation in the program.
“A landlord with two single family home rentals would benefit in an 80% reduction in annual business license fees, by participating in the Good Landlord Program.”
Landlords who do not wish to participate in the Good Landlord Program will be not be eligible for the financial incentives of the program. These landlords will be required to pay a “disproportionate fee” for the higher rate of police and emergency services that are associated with rental properties.
A disproportionate rental fee means a license fee or a tax on rental housing based on the disproportionate costs of municipal services caused by the rental housing or on an enhanced level of municipal services provided to rental housing (Utah Code 10‐1‐203).
Good Landlord Programs in the News
The following quotes were taken from a May 5, 2006 Deseret News article. Since the publication of this article, many more cities across the state have adopted Good Landlord Programs.
“'Good Landlord' programs popular. Tenants happier; crime dropping in participating rentals.”
“The programs... allow landlords to attend training on how to spot drugs, make their properties safer and weed out troubled tenants. In exchange, they get deep discounts on business licensing fees and in some cases, increased patrols...”
“Clearfield's Crime Free Multi-Housing program [is] ‘extremely successful,’ noting an average 150-call drop in police calls to apartments over everything from noise complaints to violent crimes… ‘The benefit they're seeing is they're getting better renters who are paying their rent on time,’... ‘They're keeping them longer, they're taking care of the property better.’”
How can landlords participate?
Landlords and rental property owners who wish to benefit from participation in the Good Landlord Program should complete a Rental Dwelling License Application and mark their intention to become a member of the program.
What Are Participating Landlords Required to Do?
1: Tenant screening: Owner shall perform all of the following screening requirements for all tenants prior to move in:
A: Application: Owner shall require each prospective tenant to complete a rental application, which shall include the tenant’s personal and pertinent financial information. Owner shall keep the application on file for the full term of the lease.
B: Criminal background check: Owner shall obtain a criminal history for each tenant as well as each occupant of the premises, who is 18 years or older, Owner shall keep all criminal histories on file for the full term of the lease.
C: Driver’s license or state identification: Owner shall require every prospective tenant as well as each occupant of the premises, who is 18 years or older, to provide a driver’s license or state identification card, which Owner shall copy and keep on file for the full term of the lease.
D: Credit check: Owner shall obtain a credit history from every prospective contract-signing tenant over the age of 18. Owner shall keep the credit application on file for the full term of the lease.
E: Income/employment verification: Owner shall obtain income/employment verification from every prospective contract-signing tenant.
F: Rental references: Owner shall obtain contact information for all of a prospective tenant’s previous landlords within the last three years, and the Owner shall contact these previous landlords to determine the credit and tenant history of each prospective tenant.
2: Tenant selection: Owner shall consider the following criteria, at a minimum, for tenant selection and will refuse to rent to any prospective tenant or other proposed occupant who:
A: Provided false information to the Owner on the application or otherwise;
B: Within the past three (3) years has been convicted of (1) any felony; or (2) any drug or alcohol related crime, sex crime, violence of any kind, assault, or crimes that involve weaponry of any kind; or (3) is currently on probation or parole.
3: Eviction: Owner shall promptly evict tenants that do not meet the requirements of this Chapter or are or become involved in illegal activities.
4: Executed lease: Owner shall execute a valid, written lease agreement or rental agreement with each tenant, which shall include the provisions listed in any Owner training packet prepared by the licensing authority, and those set forth in this chapter.
5: Owner training: As part of the continuing education requirement in subsection 4-20-3.A.2, Owner agrees to attend and complete a city-approved 4-hour Owner Training Program every two years.
6: Inspections: City officials shall be permitted to make an inspection to enforce this Agreement or the City Code, and may enter any building or may enter upon any premises during regular business hours; or, if there are no regular business hours, the officers or their authorized representatives shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the building or premises and request entry. If the Owner or other responsible person refuses to allow the City’s enforcement officers to enter and inspect the property, the officer may obtain and execute a search warrant.
7: Entry upon proper request: No owner, occupant or any other person having charge, care or control of any building or premises shall fail or neglect, after proper request or warrant is made, to properly permit entry therein by the City officer for the purpose of inspection and enforce of this title.
8: Real Property Maintenance: All real property used for a rental dwelling unit will have proper landscaping, regular cleaning, securing, ongoing repair, and maintenance of the premises in a manner that will:
A: Prevent fire hazards.
B: Prevent insect, rodent and other vermin harborage.
C: Prevent induction of hazardous pollutants into the air.
D: Prevent spreading of vegetation that threatens the public health, safety, or welfare.
E: Enhance the appearance of property, increase property values and encourage neighborhood creation and maintenance within the city.
F: Foster or improve the city’s image, property values, and neighborhood success.
G: Lawfully dispose of cuttings from grass, weeds or solid waste.
H: Effectively secure any vacant structure.
I: Lawfully dispose of any unsightly or deleterious objects or structures.
J: Promptly remove or erase graffiti on any structure located on the premises