Salisbury occupancy violations addressed; tenants given role

An agreement reached between landlords and city officials, to prevent rental homes from being occupied by more tenants than allowed, is fair and reasonable, the Salisbury City Council president said.

“I am very happy that we came to a conclusion that satisfied everyone to a great extent,” said Jake Day.

Tenants will now share in the responsibility if a home is over-occupied, instead of the landlord being held solely accountable and fined $500 per day.

Tenants sign a bill of rights, so it can be determined who is legally living in a house. If there’s a violation, steps must be taken to correct the offense within 10 days. If the tenants don’t correct the problem, and the landlord begins the eviction process, “that’s good enough, because it’s a long process,” Day said.

Over-occupancy is a concern for city officials because it impacts parking, the amount of trash generated, noise and the number of loud parties.

“The most important thing is life safety issues that we focus on, that’s our greatest concern, and impact on the neighborhood. We want our neighborhoods to remain intact and not bring property values down,” said Susan Phillips, director of neighborhood services and code compliance for the city.

The number of unrelated people who may live in a rental home is no more than two in the R-5, R-8 and R-10 residential districts, which encompass the majority of single-family dwellings,  Phillips said.

Many homes are grandfathered in under old laws, and allow additional tenants.

Phillips said most cases of over-occupancy are discovered after a neighbor complains. Some are found by code officers’ observations.

“Code officers are getting good at figuring it out” and catching violators, Day said. Last year, there were 22. This year, since September, there were 44.

Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton said of the 44 offenses, 50 percent was the fault  of students, and the other half  was the fault of landlords, he said.

“We had a number of incidents  on the Camden Avenue and university  neighborhoods  in September,” Day added.

“So, the city, the university and neighborhood residents have worked together  to create a response, with enforcement, and with legislation fixes and changes,” he said.

The resolution is one “that everybody is happy with,” he said.

Contact Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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