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Fayetteville continues debate on proposed rental law

— Debate ensued when the Fayetteville Village Board opened a public hearing on the proposed rental law Monday, Nov. 19. About 20 residents attended and about half of those residents spoke.

The rental law would create a registry for the village’s estimated 300 rental units. Code Enforcement Officer Richard Greene said there are 255 rental structures “that we know of, and we probably have at least 50 more that we don’t know about.”

Mayor Mark Olson said the village intends to find out how many rentals are out there, and how that number affects the quality of life of its residents. The proposed law requires all landlords to register by filling out an affidavit.

The board drafted the law in 2010 and has held multiple public hearings on it since.

David Vickers, an attorney who lives in Fayetteville, said the law makes no distinction between people who own entire apartment complexes and homeowners who decide to sublet out a room to help make ends meet.

“The language of your law has created that relationship to be landlord-tenant,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s acceptable.” Vickers isn’t a landlord, but he owns property in the village that he said he might some day rent out.

“If I own this house and I have a commercial exchange with someone, especially if there is something in writing, that to me is renting,” said Trustee Chris Randall, who chairs the rental law committee.

As a solution, Olson proposed adjusting the law to exempt owners of single-family homes from having to register.

Lisa Steele, a landlord, suggested the board approach the issue one step at a time, starting with the registry and leaving the inspection aspect out for now. The proposed law has been criticized for giving renters the power to start the inspection process with a call to the village clerk.

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