Rewrite the occupancy code

In the University area, the occupancy code should accommodate students.

Councilman Cam Gordon has recently proposed creating a task force to review occupancy codes throughout University of Minnesota neighborhoods. Though tabled by the University District Alliance, we think such a review is long overdue.

The occupancy code for most homes throughout the Marcy-Holmes and Como neighborhoods allow anywhere from three to five unrelated persons to live in the same unit. In many parts of the greater Twin Cities Metro Area, such a code makes sense. It helps prevent over-crowding and unsanitary conditions. Near the University, however, many tenants and landlords are breaking occupancy codes already with no risk of overcrowding, as large homes with up to 10 rooms are common.  

The current occupancy code only stifles the rights of many student tenants living off-campus. Students may find themselves living in a home without signing a lease because of the occupancy code. With many absentee landlords throughout University neighborhoods, students living in housing units without a lease have little to no rights concerning upkeep and sanitary conditions. Additionally, having a lease establishes liability limits and sets rent at a fixed rate for the duration of the lease when all tenants living in a home are allowed to sign.

For those landlords wishing to do right by their tenants, the occupancy code also stifles their interests. Limiting the occupancy code to three to five unrelated persons where 10 room homes are common means rental space is going unused in many cases. Allowing landlords to lease that space legally provides more revenue for the landlord and has the possibility of lowering rental rates for University students.