St. Louis County Could Force Eviction of Tenants Under New Bill

26 Replies

I was wondering if anyone on here had heard about this controversial new bill that is going to be voted on for St. Louis County? The first couple of paragraphs of this article cover the broad strokes before offering more detail.

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2015/09/28/st-louis-county-could-force-eviction-of-tenants-with-misdemeanors-under-new-plan

"Mark your calendars, landlords and tenants of unincorporated St. Louis County: Tomorrow at 6 p.m., the county council may take a final vote on a controversial statute that would add new "residential rental license" laws to the books. 


The free license would require an annual application from the landlords of residential rental properties in unincorporated St. Louis County. The application would include things like the name, street address and telephone number of the landlord and the address of each rental property. All basic enough.

However, buried in the guts of the bill are several paragraphs describing how those licenses can be suspended or revoked. According to a copy of the bill, the licensing law would allow the county to force landlords to evict any tenant convicted in the past year of felony, misdemeanor or ordinance violations on a variety of crimes, from drug dealing to alcohol consumption to gambling.

Landlords who don't evict tenants after 30 days would risk a $1,000 fine, one year jail and the loss their rental licenses on all of their properties."

Doesn't this seem outrageous? For one, there is enough government oversight of landlords anyhow without adding a "free license" which appears to be little more than a backdoor way for the county to exert pressure on landlords to evict tenants that they don't like. If neighbors or local officials gripe and complain enough, this new bill would give the county leverage to lean on landlords by threatening their entire rental portfolio over one tenant. Anyone with more than a handful of rentals would likely go along with an eviction rather than risk losing their "free license" on all their other properties. I also doubt the county is going to foot the bill for the cost of the eviction. 

Does this seem like a giant overreach by the county gov. to anyone else or am I reading it wrong? I know there are a ton of St. Louis investors on the forums here and wanted to make them aware of it just in case. Thanks

@M Marie M. The article says, "The bill is already drawing harsh criticism. In a press release, Reverend Larry Rice, head of the embattled New Life Evangelistic Center downtown, wrote, "Innocent children will be put on the streets if any member of their family commits any of the violations" listed in the bill. 


Willie Jordan, executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, told St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU 90.7) that the bill could end up disproportionately hurting poor and minority tenants.

“In the light of what’s going in Ferguson, we really feel like this bill is going exactly the opposite direction. We feel that it’s going to impede the county’s ability to help to dismantle segregation and racism with the disproportionate number of minorities that this bill has the potential to affect,” Jordan said." 

That's a legal mess, so the local ordinance will disagree with state and federal ones. 

Fight it either way, its only a matter of time before those free rental licenses get expensive.

The City of St. Louis has a nuisance ordinance that impacts landlords also. Some of the same issues have been raised to no avail! Especially that they are trying to make landlords responsible for the personal behavior of the tenants! I had to go to housing court because one of my tenants was arguing with his wife. When I spoke against the ordinance, and pointed out that they were trying to make landlords act as police, they looked at me like I was crazy! It seems that the only remedy is eviction, unless you want your property boarded up for a whole year!

The final passage meeting for the County is tonight, 9/29/15, at 6pm! Here is a good video of the last county council meeting about it -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M_DyyrX8Jk

@Garrison Householder maybe I'm too used to being in a city full of policy wonks who are specific about why things are bad. The two guys quoted didn't add too much.

If there is very little opposition it could also mean that despite what is written it might not have real teeth. For example, there are rules with Section 8 about drugs and what not, but in some places it is not enforced well or at all. 

The regular landlord/tenant court may also not support the law in practice and decide not to let the eviction go through, which screws things up for the landlord who now has a pissed off tenant.

It took months of joining half the block together, getting the Alderman & NSO involved to get a problem property on our block into nuisance court.  I don't believe one fight landed you there.  It takes a long list of complaints to make it there.

http://m.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics...

The vote has been rescheduled for October 6th.  I will be at this meeting voicing my opisition.   Anyone care to join me?  

Unintended consequences. That's what this bill will bring. O'Mara thinks that he's going to force owners to keep their challenged properties up by preventing them from renting other properties? How does that make sense?

Let's say I have five properties and one of them is in an area that has turned sour, is impossible to rent, etc. If it gets trashed out by vultures, he's now going to prevent me from renting any of my other residences. So I lose income from them, which prevents me from spending any money to fix up the first one. 

Slippery slope if you ask me.

Of greater concern is the policing of resident behaviors. When did it become the norm of this society to put responsibility for one's own actions in the hands of another? If someone is recently convicted of illegal gambling, I can't rent to them? So if a Friday night poker game between friends gets busted up, I'm supposed to kick them out? And they can't move to another place, either?

And if I don't take that action, I can be thrown in jail for a year and pay a fine of $1000? 

What has this world come to.

Hey, if I am running my places in the ground, if they are dumps, if they are unsafe... you should go after me. But if I have a bad resident, you're going to make it worse by now taking away my license to rent to all of the good ones out there. Doesn't stand up to any logic test I can think of.

@Ronald Perich I agree with you 1,000%. This is how bureaucrats think though and unfortunately they have been given the power to make idiotic laws like this. All laws have unintended consequences which is why we need less of them, not more. Yet, the solution offered by the folks who made the laws that didn't work? More laws, baby!

Your comment about putting "responsibility for one's own actions in the hands of another" is so right on that it's almost painful to read. This is our entire society today: everyone blaming others for their problems and then passing the buck on their own responsibilities by asking government to fix the problems in their life which they're more than happy to do, nominally, because they get to spend more money. Then what does the government actually do? One side of the aisle blames the other side of the aisle and nothing gets done. It's a sad state of affairs.

@Ronald Perich & @Garrison Householder why don't you guys come out to the hearing and voice these opinions (facts) to the board on October 6th.   I think you will have much better success in getting this bill thrown out if you are voicing your thoughts to the board who makes the decisions rather than just discussing them, on a forum, here at BP...

I hope to see you both there!   

Dave

I would love to, bit proir commitments prevent it. Granite City has a crime-free ordinance that basically says a resident has effectively broken the lease and that a conviction isn't even required. And that the lessor could be cited if their residents commit four or more ordinance violations within six months. There's a lawsuit going forward on that right now.

Latest promised changes from O'Mara only solve one of many problems still with this bill.

21 speakers out of 23 spoke on this bill. 23 were against it for various reasons. Multiple speakers pointed out that this was the first time they have ever seen the Landlords, Tenants, Lawyers for Landlords, Lawyers for Tenants, ACLU, Fair Housing folks, local shelters, etc. ALL ON THE SAME SIDE OF AN ISSUE with the Stl County council by themselves on the other side.

The Riverview School District, made a release opposing the Bill.


Below is the video link if you missed the meeting the other night. (speakers start at 4:23)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQqiulqJllE

The Call, just did a good article on the background behind the bill.
http://www.callnewspapers.com/Articles-Impact-News-i-2015-09-30-279850.112112-Property-owners-oppose-OMaras-rentallicense-legislation.html

Post-Dispatch ran new article. Riverfront Times and Public Radio both updated theirs as well.
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/steve-giegerich/landlords-say-st-louis-county-rental-license-is-unfair/article_3550cdbe-413a-5f0f-9cb7-1d071bd7a54a.html

I am not aware of such a law in other cities.  I cannot understand why they think this law would work in St. Louis if it doesn't elsewhere.

UPDATE 10/7/2015

Last night, after hearing from a unique conglomeration of 25 speakers including landlords, property management, civil rights organizations, home owners associations, tenants and attorneys, the bill was not approved as written. The general points were as noted in previous posts, and one council member finally heard the message - kudos to O'Leary! A bill will be presented again, possibly next week, but with more differences than the "band aids" this one has carried for over a year. 

There is a Facebook page where you can follow and/or join this project to ensure the final bill accomplishes its goal - to resolve problem properties:   https://m.facebook.com/CitizensForABetterStLouisCo...

NOTE: Common misquotes abive of fines to landlords. Not $1,000, but $1,000 PER DAY PER VIOLATION!! Huge difference, just sayin'

St. Louis County Council in a surprise vote rejects controversial rental housing bill

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politi...

Last Night Substitute Bill 3 was released 3 mins. before the County Council Meeting.  It have more gutted out of it but still does not resolve the problems they set out to address (vacant, derelict properties). Next Tuesday 10/20 5:45pm it will be up for a final vote. We want it voted on and we want it voted DOWN. We have established a Facebook page to keep updated on all articles, and latest copies of the Bill. Check it out and LIKE it:

https://www.facebook.com/CitizensForABetterStLouis...

Looks like they got this done after all.   Pretty stupid if you ask me.

http://m.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/st-louis-county-council-passes-controversial-rental-housing-bill/article_7ef4b2c2-596b-5f78-ade2-9190e6fac572.html?mobile_touch=true