Municipal Efforts to Restore Property Values: Best Practice Models

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Grand Rapids: Overhauling Outdated City Ordinances

The City of Grand Rapids, along with a consortium of community organizations, has actively addressed the role of municipal government in helping communities maintain property values in response to the changing rental market. From 2006 – 2009, a 70% increase in the number of families living in single-family rental units generated a great deal of attention on the need to overhaul outdated city ordinances. As it stands, the City Housing Code requires two-family and multi-family units to receive a two, four, or six-year Certificate of Compliance before being inhabited. This ordinance guarantees that renters have access to decent, safe rental arrangements and puts the responsibility on landlords to take care of properties, thereby helping to maintain neighborhood property values. Single-family rentals, despite being increasingly utilized as rental units, are only inspected upon complaint and are not systematically required to have a Certificate of Compliance.

To keep rental properties from becoming a nuisance, community organizations endorsed a series of recommendations and implemented a campaign to improve local housing ordinances and to promote sustainable neighborhoods. As a result of local advocacy efforts, the new ordinances that include regular inspections for single-family units for the Grand Rapids City Housing Code will go into effect in 2012.

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