Another reason rents in Columbia have skyrocketed

CoMo Property Mgmt. Report, 4/22/17 -- If you're a Columbia property manager, you've probably noticed rental unit compliance fees have risen -- a lot -- in recent years.

But you may not realize fees to register and inspect residential rental property under the city's "Rental Unit Compliance Ordinance" are up 200-300% since 2012, detailed below. Some rental compliance fees have nearly quadrupled in those five years, passed along as higher rents.

Overall US inflation is up about 9% during the same period. And yet, City Hall says it "cares deeply" about housing affordability.

Issues like huge fee hikes are prompting discussion in one of Columbia's most important industries: rental housing. Property owners and managers are not only dumbfounded by the cost of city programs, but by a growing series of property rights assaults that impact owners and renters.

This 4-part series discusses Assaults on Tenant and Landlord Rights in Columbia. These fee-based intrusions add money to City Hall coffers and have a significant impact on rents.

More importantly, they jeopardize 4th Amendment Constitutional protections our fore-fathers and mothers fought and died to establish and maintain.


Columbia city manager Mike Matthes pushed through the rental unit fee increases with two ordinances City Council members approved with little pushback from property managers or renters.
Since 2012, the fee to apply for rental unit compliance is up 71%, from $35 to $60 per building.
Inspection fees are up 300%, from $7 to $26 per unit.

Reinspection fees are up 215%, from $20 to $43 per unit.

Missed inspection fees are up 227%, from $15 to $34 per unit.

If you had ten rental units in 2011, you would have paid $620 plus fees for furnace inspections, for city officials to register and inspect your rentals at least twice (one reinspection). Any missed inspection appointments would cost extra.

Now, those same ten rental units cost $1,290 plus furnace inspection fees.

Reinspections add more cost, and have become an increasing burden.

Property managers and renters complain mightily about multiple reinspections, each coming with a $43 price tag. At about 10 minutes per reinspect, City Hall is charging you and your renters roughly $260/hour, a sizeable incentive to return multiple times.


Rental unit compliance fees increased in 2012 and 2014. In September 2012, the Columbia City Council passed Ordinance 21425, which raised these fees:

INSPECTION FEE: $7 raised to $15 per dwelling unit or rooming unit. Percent increase: more than double, over 200%.
REINSPECTION FEE: $20 raised to $25 per unit. Percent increase: 25%.

MISSED INSPECTION FEE: $15 raised to $20, assessed when owner fails to meet inspector at scheduled appointment time. Percent increase: 33%

In September 2014, Columbia City Council members passed Ordinance 22214, which raised these rental unit compliance fees:
APPLICATION FEE: $35.00 to $60.00 per building for each application for a certificate of compliance. Percent increase: 71%

INSPECTION FEE: $15 to $26. Percent increase: 73%.

REINSPECTION FEE: $25 to $43. Percent increase: 72%.

MISSED INSPECTION FEE: $20 to $34. Percent increase: 70%.
Add the time property managers spend filling out forms, accompanying city inspectors, and treading on renters' Constitutional rights, and you've got a significant cost more and more property managers are realizing after years of simply "going along to get along."

The monetary costs and increased rents do not include the liberties endangered.

COMING UP: The 2014 Occupancy Disclosure Ordinance: Why the CoMo City Council repealed City Hall's biggest civil rights intrusion in years