FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A law which has affected Fort Collins natives and Colorado State University students since the 1960s is facing change. Recently, “Corona Insights,” in part with the city, conducted an extensive study into the “U + 2” rule, which prohibits residents from living with more than two people they’re unrelated to.
The study, recently published online reviewed the ordinance, which has only been strictly enforced since 2007.
The study revealed the number of households violating the ordinance dropped shortly after enforcement started. However, in recent years, the number of illegally-populated households significantly increased, with more than 1,200 homes suspected of the violation.
Following the release of the research, Mayor Wade Troxell told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas he was in support of amending the ordinance to allow more unrelated people in a household.
Via phone, Troxell said changing the “U + 2” law would help address Fort Collins’ housing problem, while also increasing affordability for low income families and students.
Aside from some apartments complexes, several landlords in Fort Collins are legally housing more tenants than “U + 2” allows. Because they went through extensive measures to improve safety, parking and other community standards, they were given special “Over Occupancy” permits for their properties.
Troxell said changing “U + 2” would not simply open the door for landlords to expand their tenant allowances. He said a change to the law would also come with requiring landlords to meet specific safety and community standards, much like those who already went through the process for the other permits.
ASCSU (Colorado State University student government) President Tristan Syron and Director of Community Affairs Yuval Rosenthal told CBS4 they also supported the proposal from the mayor. They said students come to their offices weekly with concerns of affordable and available housing. Both believed changing “U + 2” to “Me + 3” would help solve the problem.
By increasing tenant occupancy, ASCSU believed set rental prices would be more easily split among students.
“Fort Collins has definitely become overpopulated,” one CSU student, who wished not to be identified, said.
The student invited CBS4 in to his home. He is a co-owner and illegally houses a total of four unrelated people in his home. He said having the one extra person helped disperse the rent among roommates to be affordable, while also assuring he could pay his mortgage.
The student said he thought simply increasing the allowed tenants to four would solve many issues, joining support with Troxell and ASCSU.
“I think it is a good idea for Fort Collins,” he said. “I think if we were to bump it up to at least another person living in a house, especially around college, it would benefit the city.”
However, the proposal is not supported by everyone in Fort Collins. Multiple “Over Occupancy” permit holders expressed deep concerns in the proposal. Several echoed similar concerns about lost investments and property values if the ordinance was widened for other landlords.
One landlord, who owns multiple properties around the CSU campus, said he spent tens of thousands of dollars, per home, to make sure they met the quality and safety standards the city required. In turn, he was able to make his home more marketable to students.
He vocalized concerns of lost investments if the city increased tenant allowances. He suggested it was unfair to those who worked for the right to have more than three unrelated tenants in their properties. He added, though, he was fine with other landlords having increased tenant levels, so long as they invested as much as he did.
Another landlord shared similar beliefs, saying she specifically paid extra money for homes in certain areas that qualified for more tenants. If she knew the law could have changed in the near-future, she said she would have invested in other properties.
She also added her property values, in some cases, were estimated around $50,000 more than comparable homes in those neighborhoods solely due to the “Over Occupancy” permits. She said broadening the number of people allowed to have similar privileges would lower her property values in which she invested in.
Troxell said the proposal was still a while out from becoming law. He suspected such an initiative would happen after the upcoming election.
ASCSU’s president expressed concern in that timeline, adding he hoped the law would be changed as soon as possible.
The research also revealed other issues with the ordinance. While many reports were issued by the community of suspected violations of “U + 2,” the survey showed a majority of the reports were unfounded upon investigation.
The research also showed less than half of the violators of the current law were temporary residents in that household, only living in the home for one year or less.