Government, Law, and Real Estate

Grand Rapids changes residential rental application ordinance

November 30, 2018
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Changes to residential rental applications are in effect. A new ordinance governing how apartment owners and managers must process, advertise and charge for residential rental applications in Grand Rapids started recently.

The new ordinance, which was passed by the City Commission on July 10 and took effect on Nov. 7, is intended to improve affordability for residents and dissuade predatory collection of rental application fees. The new requirements of this ordinance are important to understand for any owner or manager who intends to continue to charge an application fee for rental units.

Moving forward, applicants who submit a rental application for an available rental unit must be provided a written disclosure statement that gives a description of the screening process, the name and contact information of the person or company doing the screening and clearly states the criteria used to judge the applicant. It must contain the amount of the application fee, with an itemized explanation of the costs, which cannot exceed the actual cost of the screening process. Furthermore, any advertising for the unit must clearly indicate cost of the application fee.

If an applicant is not approved for a unit, the applicant must be provided a written explanation of the reason(s) why they did not qualify, documentation supporting that decision and contact information for resources the applicant may use to improve their chances on future applications.

Owners and managers who violate the ordinance are subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

While the above provides a summary, it does not cover the full scope of the ordinance and I would encourage landlords to learn more about the ordinance if you are an owner who intends to continue to charge an application fee for rental units in the city of Grand Rapids.

The new ordinance can be found here. Additional information about the ordinance can be found on the Rental Property Owner’s Association website here.