CoCS Rental Registration

hihozippo
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AG
Anyone have to pay this or been summoned to court with a fine for nonpayment? My dad just got a summons for nonpayment of the $15 yearly (supposedly) fee. The fine is over $200. He has never paid this in the over 10 years he's had this rental property that he can recall. Also, he's never been contacted about it before receiving this letter today, despite having the same address in Houston for over 15 years. He thinks it's a scam, but it was sent certified and from the city. It has his court date and summons so it's obviously not fake. Just curious if anyone else has dealt with this.
oldag00
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Yes. The city of CS requires all rental properties to be registered. They collect $15 per property to manage this list of rental properties. They claim they need this information in the event of an emergency or problems at the property. It's real. Not a scam.
threecatcorner
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I found something thay says when they started the rental registration program.

http://www.coventryglenrealty.net/public/CSRentalPropertyRegistrationNotice020809.pdf

According to that, they started enforcing it in March 2009. They were supposed to have notified all the property owners back then. If they had his address and didn't bother to notify him any time until now, it'd seem like it's their fault, but I don't know if a judge would agree.

I found an interview with one of the city councilmembers claiming it's mostly to help them find out if there are more than 4 unrelated people living in a rental and to have a local contact for code enforcement issues, but as far as I can tell, it seems to mostly be a scam to try to force out-of-town owners to hire local property management companies. I'd be highly surprised if no one's making money for themselves or a friend off that deal. What I am referring to is their rule that there has to be a local point of contact, and it can't be one of the renters. If you own a rental house and don't live here, that would seem to imply you have to hire one of these companies.

I remember hearing a homeowner complaining to the city at a neighborhood meeting about being asked to fill out a rental registration form for a guesthouse on her property. I can't remember exactly what they told jer though. I think that if she's renting it out, she had to register, but if she was just using it for relatives who came to visit but didn't charge them rent, there was maybe some other thing to fill out so that property would be exempt.
threecatcorner
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Well, not an outside scam, but it could be argued that the city is scamming people.

He should contact them though. It is probably a real letter.
dubi
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hihozippo said:

Anyone have to pay this or been summoned to court with a fine for nonpayment? My dad just got a summons for nonpayment of the $15 yearly (supposedly) fee. The fine is over $200. He has never paid this in the over 10 years he's had this rental property that he can recall. Also, he's never been contacted about it before receiving this letter today, despite having the same address in Houston for over 15 years. He thinks it's a scam, but it was sent certified and from the city. It has his court date and summons so it's obviously not fake. Just curious if anyone else has dealt with this.
They need to prove that he had received a prior notification is order to fine him. I received a letter from the city via regular mail when we we got a rent house.

He should owe $15 x 10 years which is just $150 to get caught up.
oklaunion
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He shouldn't have to pay 10 years worth. They collected the $15 per year for a few years but must have changed the requirements after that and now they only send out an email to see if things have changed, specifically, if you still rent it. If nothing has changed, you owe nothing.
dubi
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oklaunion said:

He shouldn't have to pay 10 years worth. They collected the $15 per year for a few years but must have changed the requirements after that and now they only send out an email to see if things have changed, specifically, if you still rent it. If nothing has changed, you owe nothing.

I didn't even remember that it changed.

I'd pay when they sent me the stupid letter in the mail.
hihozippo
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That's the weird thing. This is the first notification that he's gotten, ever.

**edit to add**
I'm going to run by there and try to pay the $15 today, we'll see if they let me do that or make me pay the fine too. Since he's a lawyer himself, he said he may fight the fine on the principle that this is the first notice he's ever received.
JP76
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Fwiw it's generally not in your best interest to piss off the city for failure to comply unless more headaches down the road is your idea of fun.
Stupe
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S
I'm generally against big government, but I was completely in favor of this when they started it. Obviously there are a lot of rentals in this town and a bunch have out-of-town or out-of-state owners and a lot of them are absentee owners.

The registration was to combat this and the fees were to insure that the owners would register.
Oogway
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I agree. Having it as a one-time fee and then no fee if the owner doesn't change at least ensures that someone can be contacted. Anecdote from a friend of mine was that their neighborhood is restricted to SFR and there was a house that was vacant. Owner lived out of town and used a PO Box or something. Whatever it was, the neighbors had no way to contact the owner when a pipe broke in the yard and began flooding adjacent properties. I think the city came out and shut the water off (or one of the neighbors did) but apparently caused some hard feelings back and forth.
Stupe
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S
I think that it should be a yearly fee because it insures that they register if there are penalties levied at scoff laws. They also have to pay someone to make sure the contact info data base is up to date and that cost should fall on the homeowners.
hihozippo
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He doesn't mind paying this at all, but does mind not ever being contacted before now with a fine that is over 13 times the cost of the fee. He would have gladly paid the $15 if he would have gotten any notification to pay in the first place.
Stupe
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S
For the record, I wasn't referring to your dad as a scoff law.
TX AG 88
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Stupe said:

I'm generally against big government, but I was completely in favor of this when they started it. Obviously there are a lot of rentals in this town and a bunch have out-of-town or out-of-state owners and a lot of them are absentee owners.

The registration was to combat this and the fees were to insure that the owners would register.



What interest does the city have in combatting out-of-state or absentee owners? The whole "register and fee" thing sounds bizarre to me. The renter will certainly know who they pay the rent to and how to contact them, and if not, the tax records do. What right or interest does the city have in "requiring" a local POC to contact? Is that local POC then forbidden from ever leaving town in case the city needs to contact them? This sounds like horrible over-reach to me. Glad i don't have rental property in CS.
------------
Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. --- Benjamin Franklin
Stupe
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Quote:

What interest does the city have in combatting out-of-state or absentee owners?
The interest of those of us that live here and have to deal with issues when absentee or irresponsible owners don't keep up their property and there is no way to get in touch with them. There are also tenants that don't care about the shape of the property and if the owners are leasing to poor tenants, then they should be held accountable for what the people that they approved are doing.

The registration is a list of contact information for that purpose.

Quote:

Glad i don't have rental property in CS.
Most owners that I know take care of their properties don't have an issue with the registration or the fee.
dubi
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Quote:

Most owners that I know take care of their properties don't have an issue with the registration or the fee.
Bingo!
Lone Stranger
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Back before the city did this there was a significant problem with out of town owners "hiding" their contact info so police, fire, utilities, code enforcement, etc. couldn't bother them with tenant issues. Typical issues were the water breaks over Xmas and not being able to contact anybody. Common scenario; students leave town for Xmas break, water pipes inside wall of house freeze and burst, water flows onto neighbors properties and floods their yard, etc. Neighbor tries to look up owner on BCAD and finds out the address listed for the owner is a vacant lot in Round Rock or some other community around the state or nation or an LLC with a Mailboxes, etc address in Tyler and the Mailboxes, etc forwards the mail to the owner at a different address (sometimes in a different town). I found out in the late 90's there was actually a book about how to do this so neighbors and cities couldn't contact you regarding the tenant issues on your property.

I seem to remember it coming to a head prior to the COCS registration rule when there had been several instances of fires and nobody could figure out how to contact the owners or tenants while they were out of town for vacation, Xmas or Spring break, summer, etc. Of course after an event the tenants and owner all publicly blamed the city for not alerting them there was a problem. Then the city comes out and says they couldn't figure out who to contact because they had ownership info in BCAD that took them to a vacant lot or Mailboxes, etc address but no contact information to alert anyone because the owner shielded their information so they wouldn't be contacted.

I would think most absentee owners would want to know when something major happened to their property but enough shielded their contact information because they didn't want to be bothered with all the problems their tenants were creating. That is pretty much how we got here. One might argue its easier to track someone down today than it was when the regulation was adopted but this way the city (as in many cases) can say they have a system in place to prevent the problems that used to occur and it is up to the owners to comply.
The Anchor
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Stupe said:

I'm generally against big government, but I was completely in favor of this when they started it. Obviously there are a lot of rentals in this town and a bunch have out-of-town or out-of-state owners and a lot of them are absentee owners.

The registration was to combat this and the fees were to insure that the owners would register.

There should have been some caveats to this law. I once owned a duplex and lived in one side. Why should I had to have paid $15 when I live next door? There is absolutely no valid reason to have me pay a fee when I lived in town and right next door.
Stupe
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Quote:

One might argue its easier to track someone down today than it was when the regulation was adopted but this way the city (as in many cases) can say they have a system in place to prevent the problems that used to occur and it is up to the owners to comply.
Sure, it's easier to find someone today than it was when this was started. But, an up to date data base is the easiest and most accurate.
agnerd
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Quote:

    If you do not live in College Station, you are required by City Ordinance to have a local contact within 30 miles of College Station City Hall. If you do not provide a local contact when creating a license, we cannot approve and activate your rental license until you provide the required information.

Is there a market for local contacts? Can I charge $10 a year and provide a google voice number that I will never answer and an address to which I never open the front door? Seems like easy money to be an un-contactable contact while barely satisfying this stupid law.

City already has ways to pursue code violations. If they actually did their job, this Ordinance would be unnecessary.
Stupe
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S
If all landlords actually took care of their properties it wouldn't be needed.

But, a lot don't.
dubi
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Stupe said:

If all landlords actually took care of their properties it wouldn't be needed.

But, a lot don't.
A surprising amount do not.

I don't understand ignoring maintenance or having crappy tenants in a capital asset.
techno-ag
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It's been a while since I saw the stat, think it was city-data.com or something, but about 2/3 of the beds in College Station are rented. That does not translate into 2 out of 3 houses being rentals, but there are a lot. I know it really irritates Co CS folks that so many houses are rentals. The registration system was one way to "resist" or at least discourage turning houses into rental properties and provide some sort of control or oversight.

Also I don't think they worry about condos. I guess if something happens the management team is either on site or easy to contact.
The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional.

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Oogway
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I don't remember my friend commenting that she disliked renters, but that with no way to get in touch with the landlord/owner, it was difficult to get the water problem I referred to earlier resolved. Running a business (which is what many rental homes are) in a neighborhood should have some oversight and having a contact list assists with that.
threecatcorner
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I think that having a contact list in case of things like a water pipe bursting is a good idea, but I think it is stupid that it has to be someone within 30 miles of College Station and it can't be a tenant. Some landlords at least used to have a tenant that was basically an on-site property manager that would do so in exchange for free or reduced rent (say, one unit of a 4-plex that can handle some stuff for the landlord if there's an issue with the other units), and I think there are kind of a lot of people (or used to be) that would buy a house and rent it to their kids and/or kids' friends. If a tenant can be the contact, the kid could contact their parent when there's an issue, or if an out-of-town number is ok (possibly verified that someone will answer), the owner can take the call from the city and then make any arrangements they need to or can say that they are authorizing the tenant to handle it.
hopeandrealchange
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I have had mine registered since day one. Paid the $15.00 each for many years.
I got a call several years ago from the P D saying they had been trying to contact me about an issue. And that I was hard to find. I asked the dispatcher why they did not access the rental registration data. They had no idea it existed. I followed up and no one in the P D knew about it at the time. Government at its finest.
agnerd
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Quote:

Local contact cannot be on the lease and must reside within 30 miles of the College Station City Hall. Local contact must retain name and contact information for all persons listed on the current lease and present information to the Administrator upon request.
This is the most STUPID part of the whole thing. The ONLY purpose of the local contact is to PROVIDE THE CONTACT INFORMATION OF THE LOCAL RENTERS!!! That means that there is absolutely no purpose whatsoever to require a LOCAL contact. All they really need is ANY contact that has a phone number.

Or local contact should be allowed to be one of the renters since that's who they're going to contact anyway.
woodiewood1
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For $10 a year, per property, I will gladly be the local contact for about 10,000 of you out of town landlords.
AFM
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I think the city stopped charging $15/unit per year, right?
hopeandrealchange
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Yes they stopped the yearly fee.
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