Orem has about $80,000 a year in utility bills sent to collections from renters living in single-family homes. Only $30,000 on average is collected leaving the city to absorb about $50,000 in unpaid bills each year.
On Tuesday, the City Council discussed ways they could bring the home owners more into the payment process.
When it comes to collections and unpaid bills, single-family home renters have about 8% to 9% turned in as compared to multi-family tenants that have only about .3% to .5% turned to collections, according utility records.
According to Steven Downs, city spokesman, there are two action items the city wants to capitalize on — placing utilities in the name of the homeowner rather than the renter’s, and requiring all homeowners who rent their homes to acquire a business license.
“Gone are the days of the absentee landlord,” Downs said.
By requiring a business license, the city is intending to build a list of the homeowners that rent so if there is a problem or issues with the property from criminal activity to broken water pipes, they can be contacted much quicker.
“It allows our code enforcement people to do what they need to do — better,” Downs said.
Neighborhoods and their improvement is one of the council’s focuses this year. Putting more accountability on landlords and having them follow rules will help with good neighbor policies. It is also beneficial to the neighborhood preservation officers to have quick access to owners.
Orem has about 2,400 single-family home rentals. Some of the homeowners live out-of-state. Management companies hired by homeowners would be accountable in place of the homeowner.
“It can take police several days to locate owners if there is a problem,” said Jamie Davidson, city manager.
Licensing and utilities in the name of the owner will also quickly pinpoint illegal rentals, according to Downs.
The next step is to complete a study on licensing costs and other effects of changing the codes, according to Downs.
The city is hoping to adopt a rental license program at the beginning of 2020 with full implementation by July 2020.
“I’m glad we’re doing it,” said Orem Mayor Richard Brunst. “I think it’s needed.”
The council gave Downs the nod to move forward.
“I applaud the direction of the team,” said Councilman Tom Macdonald.