Residential Landlords Take Heed: St. Louis County Enacts Landlord Licensing Requirement – UPDATE: Ordinance Found Unconstitutional

November 2015

Update – December 2017: The Circuit Court of St. Louis County declared St. Louis County Ordinance 26,211 (the "Residential Rental Property Licensing Code") unconstitutional. As of the date of this update, representatives at the County’s office were unable to comment on whether there was any proposal for a replacement ordinance.  Readers should note that this ordinance applied only to unincorporated St. Louis County and that other municipalities may have their own separate licensing requirements for landlords.

Update – January 7, 2016: St. Louis County Ordinance 26,211—the "Residential Rental Property Licensing Code"—is not being enforced by St. Louis County as a result of a temporary restraining order issued by the Circuit Court of St. Louis County.

Update – December 30, 2015: St. Louis County Ordinance 26,211—the "Residential Rental Property Licensing Code"—is set to take effect on December 31, 2015. The ordinance requires owners of certain types of residential rental property in unincorporated St. Louis County to apply for a license before renting their properties. Applications are only available online through Accela Citizen Access, and applicants must create a login account (at no charge) to complete the application or claim an exemption. The County will have computer kiosks available at its North Satellite Center, South Satellite Center, and Main Administration Building for owners without suitable internet access. Completed applications are due by January 4, 2016. For more information, click here.

On October 21st, 2015, the St. Louis County Executive approved Ordinance 26,211, known as the "Residential Rental Property Licensing Code". The Code applies to owners of residential rental property located in unincorporated St. Louis County and having four or less living units, and requires such owners to obtain a license before renting such properties. The Code specifically exempts from this requirement the following: "university-owned housing, college fraternities and sororities, hotels or motels and multi-family dwellings, boarding houses or residential care/assisted living facilities each having five or more living units".

Application for such license must be made annually and shall: (i) identify the name, address and telephone number of the applicant, the address of each rental property and the identity and contact information of the agent responsible therefor, and (ii) affirm that the applicant has no outstanding fines imposed by the St. Louis County Municipal Court and that each location is in compliance with the St. Louis County Waste Management Code. License holders have an ongoing reporting requirement as to any changes in the information provided and any new properties leased by the applicant. Furthermore, license holders must comply with the St. Louis County Property Maintenance Code or risk the suspension or revocation of their licenses.

Most notable, however, is that the Ordinance requires license holders to initiate eviction proceedings against occupants of the property who have been convicted of, or who have pled guilty to, felonies arising from certain actions that took place on the rental property, including those relating to drugs, firearms, prostitution, illegal gambling and the illegal sale, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. This eviction requirement is triggered by the license holder's receipt of written notice from the Director of Transportation/Public Works identifying the occupant and the violation. Eviction proceedings must be initiated within 30 days following receipt of such notice.

Landlords are encouraged to review their lease forms to confirm that such action by an occupant allows for the immediate eviction of such occupant.

Violation of the Code may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year, and each day of violation constitutes a separate violation. Existing landlords are not expressly exempted from the Code's requirements.

We expect rules and regulations to be issued to implement the Code's provisions, but as of the date of this publication, no rules or fee schedules have been made available by the Director of the Department of Transportation/Public Works.

The Code becomes effective on December 31, 2015. A copy of the Ordinance is available by entering Ordinance 26,211 here.

If you have any questions about landlord-tenant requirements in St. Louis County or elsewhere, please contact one of our real estate attorneys.