Government

Iowa City Council caps number of house rentals around University of Iowa

Members hope ordinance stabilizes neighborhoods

Christopher Warnock walks past a rental property as he talks about the makeup of owner-occupied houses and rental proper
Christopher Warnock walks past a rental property as he talks about the makeup of owner-occupied houses and rental properties in the Goose Town neighborhood, where he lives, in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Any landlord hoping to buy and rent out a house around the University of Iowa may be out of luck in the near future.

The Iowa City Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday that limits rental housing permits for single-family homes and duplexes in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the university. It also strengthens minimum rental requirements.

Current permit holders are grandfathered in, but new rental permits will be limited to 30 percent of the homes in a given neighborhood.

Council support was unanimous, 7-0, on the third and final reading of the ordinance, which is viewed as a way to stabilize neighborhoods around the university.

Council members agreed the ordinance should be “a living document,” or one that’s reviewed in the future.

The ordinance does not apply to apartment complexes.

The move is in response to a new state law that no longer allows municipalities to regulate occupancy of rentals based on familial status.

Previously, Iowa City did not allow more than three unrelated people to live in a unit together.

As the council was considering the ordinance, members heard both support from owner-occupied neighbors as well as concerns from UI students that limiting housing growth would increase rent prices and hurt walkability.

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After the state law was passed, the city saw a rush of building permit applications from landlords wanting to add bedrooms to single-family homes and duplexes.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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