Jul 12, 2021 - Politics

Des Moines to finalize new rent rules

Illustration of three house keys, one silver, one gold, one bronze.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

New rent rules will go before the DSM City Council for a third and final vote July 19.

Why it matters: The updates are intended to promote public safety. But unnecessary regulation can create headaches for both landlords and renters, resulting in fewer homes for rent or more expensive housing.

  • Orange City is being sued by landlords and tenants challenging a new rental ordinance as overly invasive and a violation of constitutional rights.

Key changes:

  • Emergency "knockout panels" that allow a resident to exit a building through another unit would be phased out by June of 2025. (Tenants often block them, making for unreliable exit systems.)
  • Landlords must request a rental license at least 60 days prior to leasing. (It's currently 30 days.)

Of note: The City Council deferred decisions on some of the key pieces of an earlier proposal.

  • Separate furnaces would be required in each residence of multi-unit apartment buildings to minimize commingled air as a health measure.
  • Properties occupied by an owner's parent or child would no longer be exempt from licensing requirements.
  • A 5% inspection fee increase was recommended. Most are currently between $88 and $150 for initial inspections.

What's next: The deferred pieces will be reviewed at upcoming council workshops.


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