Part One of a Series:   Higher fees mean higher rents

COLUMBIA, Mo 5/29/17 (Beat Byte)  -- If you're a Columbia renter, you've probably noticed rents have risen a lot in the past few years.  

That may seem strange, since the supply of rentals has also gone up -- a lot -- which should lower rents, not raise them. 

What you may not realize is the effect City Hall has on your rising rent. 

Despite city manager Mike Matthes' talk about supporting affordable housing, his policies, with the blessing of the Columbia City Council, have helped rents soar.

Matthes has raised fees to register and inspect residential rental property 70-370% since 2012.   US inflation is up only about 9% during the same period.   

These fee increases are passed along as higher rents. 


Matthes pushed through the rental 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 371%, 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.

Furnace inspection fees average $90-$120.  

These fee increases add up.   Consider a small property owner with ten low-income rental units.   Just six short years ago, he or she paid $620 plus fees for furnace inspections, for city officials to register and inspect the rentals at least twice (one inspection; one reinspection).    Any missed inspection appointments 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 about multiple reinspections, each with a $43 price tag.  At about 5-10 minutes per reinspect, City Hall charges renters between $260-$500/hour, a big incentive to reinspect as often as possible.


The fee hikes occurred in two separate city ordinances.    In September 2012, Matthes sent the Columbia City Council Ordinance 21425, which raised these rental permit fees:

INSPECTION FEE:   $7 raised to $15 per dwelling unit or rooming unit, up 214%.
REINSPECTION FEE:   $20 raised to $25 per unit, up 25%.

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

In September 2014, Matthes sent Columbia City Council Ordinance 22214, which raised these rental permit fees:
APPLICATION FEE:   $35.00 to $60.00 per building for each application for a certificate of compliance, up 71%

INSPECTION FEE:   $15 to $26, up 73%.

REINSPECTION FEE:   $25 to $43, up 72%.

MISSED INSPECTION FEE:   $20 to $34, up 70%.
Add the time property managers spend filling out forms, accompanying city inspectors, and treading on renters' 4th Amendment Constitutional rights without their permission, and you've got a big cost passed along as higher rent.