Mayor Schultz is helping homeowners
St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz should be commended for organizing a group of citizens to review the city’s current residential rental ordinance. This may sound like just another meeting, but if you’re a homeowner in the city, you’ll want to pay attention. That’s because the city’s current ordinance does not allow homeowners in St. Joseph to rent out their property, unless it is owner-occupied.
This is problematic on many levels: it infringes on private property rights; it puts an obstacle in the way of St. Joe home sales; it negatively impacts a homeowner’s title and mortgage; and it hurts property values and the city’s tax base.
Furthermore, with the adoption of the St. Johns and St. Bens Residential Life Program, which requires students to live on campus, the ordinance deserves to be reviewed.
The ordinance may have propped up market values when the real-estate market was healthy, but in today’s current market, it is creating hardships.
Take for example the home of an active duty Army major and his family, who were reassigned to Kansas. Their home, which they bought at the height of the real-estate boom, was put on the market. The major had to significantly drop the price, which meant he would have to bring a lot of money to the closing to pay off his mortgage. The major could not let the home go into foreclosure as that would demonstrate financial irresponsibility and would damage his career. Because of the rental ban, the only option was to reduce the price and “fire sale” the home. He had to bring approximately $30,000 to the closing to make the sale work. This would have been avoided if allowed to rent his home. “Fire sales” or foreclosures only hurt St. Joseph’s housing market.
Revising the ordinance to allow rentals is just good business. A home filled with people who buy things and consume services is better than an empty home that cannot be rented — and runs the risk of falling into disrepair and even foreclosure.
As a realtor, it is not my intent to increase the number of rentals in the city. But in addition to promoting homeownership, realtors also care about the rights of homeowners and strong communities. I applaud Mayor Schultz for sharing these concerns.
St. Cloud Area Association of Realtors