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Bill designed to protect nonconforming rentals

(Daily Herald) A bill that would halt a practice used by Provo city to reduce the number of renters moved forward on Thursday.

House Bill 381 would eliminate a licensing technique used by some cities to negate renters who are grandfathered into a no-rent zone.

"They could use it to potentially abuse the system," said Rep. Steve Sandstrom, R-Orem.

It works like this. Lincoln Shurtz, the director of legislative affairs for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, said the bill clarifies what most people presume the law to mean. Cities would be required to accept legal nonconforming uses and structures until there was a major modification in either the use or the structure.

In short, if a homeowner legally rents his house, a city cannot change its code so this house no longer conforms and then refuse to give said homeowner a business license to rent his home until he brings it up to the new code. All that homeowner has to do is meet the old code with which he initially was in compliance. This legal nonconforming status will remain in place until the building or the use of the building is significantly modified.

This came about, Shurtz said, because Provo homeowners said the city gave them the ability to rent, then changed the zoning in that area and refused to allow rentals.

The House of Representatives passed the bill, and on Thursday a Senate committee unanimously moved the bill forward to be debated on the Senate floor.

Original Article