Ocean City Today
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Rental licenses focus of housing seminar

Resort landlords required to have permits for property use, noise before renting
By Greg Ellison | Apr 05, 2018
Source: File Photo

(April 6, 2018) Ensuring landlords, real estate agents and rental property owners understand and abide by Ocean City rental codes was the intent of the annual housing seminar held at the convention center on Tuesday.

The housing compliance and regulation update was hosted by P.R.E.S.S., the Property Review and Enforcement Strategies for Safe-housing committee, which coordinates housing regulation enforcement between numerous city departments, including police, building, zoning, fire marshal and rental licensing.

Planning Director Bill Neville said this year’s seminar drew a far smaller crowd than the contingent present in 2016, when the city introduced new rental licenses for R-1 (single-family residential) zoned properties.

“I think because we were rolling out new information two years ago, we probably had 50-60 at that meeting,” he said. “We don’t really have new regulations that we’re rolling out this year … this is a reminder.”

The presentation reviewed rental property rules and highlighted housing and safety requirements for seasonal workforce housing.

Anyone renting housing units in Ocean City is required to obtain a license and noise permit. Rental properties also are subject to inspections for occupancy rates, as well as fire and safety standards.

“This year the new priority is on rental licenses,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure everybody who is participating in the rental market has their license this year.”

In 2016, R-1 rental licenses were introduced to mitigate the impact on residential neighborhoods that were seeing an increasing number of properties being converted to seasonal rentals, Neville said.

“The market has shown us that’s where people are looking for rentals to be able to bring their family to the beach,” he said. “It’s just how do we manage from a city standpoint and how should property owners manage the situation.”

Neville said last year of the approximately 7,500 rental licenses issued, 348 were for R-1 properties.

The number of guests permitted in R-1 rental properties is restricted to no more than four unrelated persons, with 40 square feet of bedroom space per person, including a 10-square foot credit for closet space.

Unlicensed rentals are subject to an initial fine of $500, which doubles if the property is not in compliance with 15 days. If the property remains unlicensed after 30 days, a $1,000 per day fine is assessed.

To avoid overcrowding rentals and meeting safety standards, minimum floor area requirements are established for bedrooms, dining and living areas, Neville said.

These include minimum bedroom sizes of 70 square feet, to include 40 square feet per person, as well as at least 120 square feet of living space. Rental properties with three to five tenants require at least 200 square feet of combined living /dining space, which increases to 250 square feet for six or more individuals.

Neville said the first step to manage rental properties properly is having the Department of Planning and Community Development perform an inspection to establish maximum occupancy rates, which should be posted in each unit.

Neville said rental property owners should share contact information with neighbors and tenants to address potential problems.

Also, rentals in R-1 zones are required to complete a certificate of occupancy form with each lease agreement, Neville said.

The goal of regulations is to improve living conditions for residents and renters, Neville said.

“The rental license is just a way [to ensure] everyone is on an even playing field and knows the rules,” he said.

Last year, Neville said, housing related complaints were addressed promptly despite limited staff.

“The general consensus was any concerns … we were able to resolve pretty quickly and we’re looking forward to another great season,” he said.

The P.R.E.S.S. committee encouraged all community members to report properties that may be in violation of a safety, building or health code. Citizens with concerns or complaints are asked to call the Office of Planning and Community Development at 410-289-8855.

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