Correction: A story in yesterday’s edition of the Daily (Lease-date ordinance announced) incorrectly stated that the mayor’s proposed housing ordinance would require landlords to show an apartment or house before renting it. The story should have said that the proposed ordinance will close a loophole in similar ordinances by not allowing a landlord to lease a property to a new tenant until one-fourth of the current leasing period is over.

 

Ann Arbor residents came one step closer to pushing back the annual housing rush last night when Mayor John Hieftje released a draft of a housing ordinance that would place new restrictions on how early landlords can start showing premises.

The draft was released to the Michigan Student Assembly last night.

The assembly passed a resolution in support of the ordinance.

The ordinance, initially based on legislation from Madison, Wisc., would prevent landlords from entering leased premises for the purpose of showing the premises to prospective tenants until one-fourth of the current lease period has passed.

Currently, many students are forced to sign leases as early as September and October for houses they will live in a year later.

The ordinance would buy students a little more time – at least until December – to sign a lease for the next year.

Hieftje – who announced the ordinance at last night’s MSA meeting – said his ordinance closes a loophole left open in the Madison legislation by requiring landlords to show an apartment or house before renting it.

Landlords in Madison could still sign new tenants without showing the apartment or property themselves.

Cities that have implemented similar legislation have run into problems enforcing their ordinances.

In some cases, landlords attempt to circumvent the ordinance by offering virtual tours of properties over the Internet or allowing tenants to view the premises in person without the landlord present.

“The clause we’ve added prevents that,” Hieftje said.

If a landlord shows a house to a potential renter before one-fourth of the lease period expires, he would be punished by a $1,000 fine, under the proposed ordinance.

This rule would not apply to nine-month leases.

“You can’t stop the use of the Web, but you can stop the effectiveness of marketing over the Web,” MSA City Liaison Laura Van Hyfte said.

“This makes the ordinance more pro-student and more effective,” she added.

MSA President Jesse Levine echoed Van Hyfte’s sentiments, saying the ordinance will ease pressure applied on students by landlords.

“I wholeheartedly support this ordinance,” he said.

The mayor said he will open discussion about the draft in January and aims to have the legislation in place before the May leasing period.

The ordinance would take effect 10 days after legal publication.

 

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