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State sides with landlord in property-rights conflict over Provo home

PROVO — Landlord Scott Davidson calls it a "common coincidence" that people who once lived in the 1915 house he bought in 2006 are still in the area and like to talk about their experience when he is out working in the yard.

Many of the people who walk by the house at 175 W. 200 South remember living there or in the neighborhood more than 35 years ago, Davidson said. Often, they like to share their emotional ties to the early 20th century houses and basement apartments they once rented.

Now, Davidson is relying on those "common coincidences" to help him build a case against Provo, which won't allow him to legally rent the house and basement apartment separately.

The landlord has found directories that showed tenants who rented the home or basement in 1941 and 1956, as well as evidence that a city building inspector said the kitchen was installed in 1950.

City zoning officials cite a 1974 ordinance that says an owner must prove that his or her property was legally nonconforming to continue the use. The home is in the central business district commercial zone.

But a state ombudsman says the ordinance oversteps legal boundaries to keep Davidson from renting his house as a nonconforming duplex. Such opinions are intended to avoid legal action. Original Article

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