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City Council convened on Monday night to discuss a full agenda, including ordinances to amend the Ann Arbor city code pertaining to sections such as leasing agreements and the selling of fur products. 

After a lengthy debate between tenants and landlords during the last City Council meeting on July 23, the council finalized the amendment requiring landlords in Ann Arbor to “communicate the terms of a subsequent lease no later than 180 days and [give] tenants a right to renew leases for residential premises within 210 days, unless just cause exists to not renew a lease.”

On Monday night, more Ann Arbor residents called into the meeting to express their opinions on the ordinance. While many student tenants said they feel the current timeline forces them to sign leases earlier in the year in order to find an affordable living space off-campus, many landlords argue that extending the lease will make the market even more competitive since undergraduate renters would be looking for housing for the same time period as other tenants. 

U-M graduate student Ember McCoy called in during the public hearing to encourage councilmembers to vote in favor of the ordinance, as she believed it would add protections benefitting renters, especially students.

“These changes on the table today would be a significant step and would be the first of many to shift power imbalance away from landlords towards renters, making the city a more equitable place to live,” McCoy said. 

Ann Arbor resident Elliott Brannon called in to address an amendment proposed by Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, during the meeting. Ramlawi’s amendment would have added a loophole to the resolution, permitting renters to opt-out of the 210-day right to renew a lease. Brannon and other callers argued the amendment would allow landlords to pressure renters to exercise the opt-out, potentially causing further power imbalance. 

“We renters, however, need more protection — we’ve needed more protections for years and judging from the frustration expressed at the last City Council meeting, our voices have not been heard,” Brannon said. “The amendment Councilman Ramlawi is going to propose has historical context that I encourage you to investigate, as it will certainly erode protections we are fighting for.”

On his amendment, Ramlawi said he believed it would encourage landlords and tenants to work together to come to an agreement that works best for both, even if it is sooner than the 210-day right to renew. 

“This amendment would allow tenants and landlords to amend the agreement and allow for early showing if, …  the tenant and (landlords) agree to  (it) without any undue pressure or incentives …,” Ramlawi said. “By doing this, I don’t think we’ve gutted the benefit this ordinance change brings to tenants. You still have those protections.”

Councilmembers voted Ramlawi’s proposed amendment down 9-2, with Councilmember Ramlawi and Councilmember Hayner, D-Ward 1, in favor. The final resolution without the amendment passed through council unanimously.

Council members also voted on C4, an ordinance to amend the city code and change a chapter’s name from “Endangered Species” to “Sale of Animal Products.” The ordinance includes a provisional statement mandating no Ann Arbor business sell fur products, with an exemption made for tribal practices and vintage resale. The ordinance provides one year for businesses to phase out the selling of fur.

During the public commentary section of the meeting, multiple callers voiced their support for the ordinance, citing its potential to protect wildlife and the environment. Tanya Hilgendorf, CEO of the Humane Society chapter in Huron Valley, said she believes the ordinance would be a step in the right direction for City Council.

“This ordinance sends a really important message and serves as a model of compassion for other communities,” Hilgendorf said. “I also hope it will be a step towards the city adopting more consistent values and policies around respecting animal life, including our wild neighbors.”

The co-sponsor of the ordinance, Hayner, began the council’s discussion by calling attention to the violent practices associated with the fur market. 

“I think it’s clear that maybe a hundred years ago we had a need for this kind of thing,” Hayner said. “The times have changed. Our environment has changed. Our relationships with the environment need to change, and that’s why I am proposing this ban on the sale of commercial fur here in the city of Ann Arbor.”

Councilmember Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, also said she would be happy to support the ordinance because of its potential to influence other municipalities in the region to enact similar policies.

“This is really important legislation for the Midwest,” Briggs said. “It’s important for the humane society to have cities stepping forward and bringing legislation like this. Bans like this — we don’t have them in the Midwest, so this is model legislation for other communities to look to as well, so we’re really leading here on an important issue that’s around animal welfare.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance banning the selling of animal fur in Ann Arbor. 

Summer News Editor Lily Gooding can be reached at goodingl@umich.edu.