The city of St. Paul has created a new “Student Housing Overlay District” in the area surrounding the St. Thomas campus. There are many things that students who are renting off campus need to know about this ordinance and St. Paul’s Student Rental House Registration Program.
This ordinance limits the density of single-family and duplex student rentals in a defined area. After the initial registration period, during which landlords can register their properties as student dwellings (ending Dec. 5, 2012), no new student rentals can be registered within 150 feet of an existing registered student rental.
What students need to know
- The ordinance affects only single-family homes and duplexes rented by students. Any structure with three or more residential units is not affected.
- The dwelling must be occupied by at least three undergraduate students to be classified as a “student dwelling.” These students need not be UST students.
- The ordinance also does not apply to duplexes that are currently owner occupied in one unit.
- Any owner of a single-family home or duplex with a valid fire certificate of occupancy that currently is rented to students has the opportunity to register the property as a student dwelling prior to Dec. 5, regardless of the distance between it and another student rental.
- This registration must be completed by the property owner/manager – not the renters.
- The registration requires proof of student status, most commonly a copy of a student ID.
- As of Dec. 6, 2012, any property that is not registered as a student rental dwelling cannot be registered as one unless its property line is at least 150 feet in all directions from the property line of a city-recognized student rental.
Why this matters
- Beginning Dec. 6, if you are living with other students in a single-family or duplex structure in the overlay district, and your landlord has failed to register as a student dwelling, you risk eviction if your property is within 150 feet of another property that is registered as a student dwelling.
What you should do
- Check to see if your property is in the overlay district by viewing the map.
- Provide your landlord with the necessary document and ask him or her to register the property.
- If your landlord is not asking for that documentation, request an explanation and make sure he or she is aware of the new ordinance and the registration deadline (Dec. 5).
- Check the city of St. Paul’s website to verify that your property has a valid fire certificate of occupancy.
- Don’t over-occupy. This is not new, and the occupancy requirement predates this ordinance. The city has limited the number of individuals in a rental unit to four unrelated adults. After the registration period, the new ordinance may lead to additional inspections that could result in greater detection of over-occupancy situations.
- Familiarize yourself with the ordinance.
- If you don’t understand – ask questions!