By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver City Council is expected to take up a new discussion on how to stabilize rent and create a registry on Monday night.

“We updated this,” said Linsdey Benton, pointing to a decades-old house in an interview with CBS4.

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Benton owns four properties near the Clayton neighborhood. One of them is her primary residence. As a landlord, she’s been paying close attention to the news coming out of the council meetings.

“So that we have how many rentals we have in our city, that they meet the basic housing standards, that they are complying with our zoning codes,” Benton said.

Stacie Gilmore has been holding virtual community meetings to introduce the Health Residential Rentals for All policy. Her office told CBS4, “Everyone who rents in Denver deserves to have the protection that their housing meets the city’s minimum housing standards and is safe. This rental license will ensure that and it will also provide data and contact information so we can better support renters through additional resources. We purposely kept fees very low and the benefits of this program for tenants’ rights far outweigh the cost of the program.”

Part of the program would require a landlord to get a license, an inspection is part of that.

“There are places that are not healthy, and they’re not getting fixed,” Gilmore said.

To create the program alone, it would cost the city over $400,000. Gilmore is for the licensing.

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“The problem is the third party inspection that the city wants to put on top of all landlords and how it’s disproportionately affecting the mom-and-pop landlords,” Benton added.

Larger complexes will have different set fees and a set number of inspections. Benton being a smaller landlord would have to get each property inspected.

“I think programs exist already with fair housing and with HUD,” Benton said.

And now Benton is also concerned about a new citizen push by No Eviction Without Representation to launch a ballot intiative that would guarantee a $75 annual tax to raise $12 million so evicted tenants could use their landlords.

An NEWR spokesperson told us, “From 2010-2019, Denver averaged 9000 eviction filings each year — the scale of Denver evictions far exceeds the limited resources of the several non-profits that currently provide pro-bono legal counsel to tenants facing eviction. According to Facing Eviction Alone, a study on evictions in Denver between 2014-2016, only 2 percent of tenants facing eviction were represented by an attorney while landlords were represented in 100 percent of those cases. Studies show when tenants have legal representation, they are much more likely to stay housed. Denverites forced out of work during the pandemic have not received rent forgiveness – we can’t afford to go back to the old status quo for evictions and see thousands of our neighbors displaced.”

Benton has launched her own petition to demand answers from city council, particularly about third party inspection and the cost to taxpayers to keep the program running.

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According to the new healthy rental proposal, there would be some exceptions, including government housing and nonprofits.

Jacqueline Quynh