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My Experience with 300-foot Rule & House for Rent

With all this discussion of rental ordinances, I thought I’d offer my experience with the 300-foot rule. We were denied a rental license when we first applied, due to the 300-foot rule, but were granted a license upon appeal due to economic hardship. The appeals board seemed thoughtful and open-minded, and had clear criteria outlined for when they should grant a variance. While the 300-foot rule has been a difficulty for some, I observed 6 appeals the day I testified, and 5/6 were granted for what seemed to me to be good financial hardship cause. The 6th was denied for what appeared to be valid cause, too. Perhaps the rule is imperfect, but even though it did cost me some money and time and effort, I do believe our local government is being receptive to community needs. I’m glad the council and the mayor’s office is considering new rules to supplant the rule.

So, now that I have had the city inspection of the house, I am ready to offer it for rent. So, the house I have for rent: nice 3-bedroom, 1.5 bath house for rent not far from UMD/Scholastica–close to Chester Creek Park, great neighbors, walking distance to cafe/bookstore, two buslines close by–really an ideal location for the best of Duluth urban life. Off-street parking. Great deck. Hot water radiant heat, newer fuel oil furnace, new hot water heater. Looking to rent to a family, if possible. $900 month plus you pay utilities. If interested e-mail me for more details: [email protected]

12 Comments

Claire

about 9 years ago

I want to attest -- this is a GREAT house... if I didn't like my house, I'd be tempted.

Pedro H. Albuquerque

about 9 years ago

Lucky you. I've just been informed by my real estate agent that our final plea for an exception based on hardship has been denied by the city, just a few days ago. It means that the city has crushed our last hopes of avoiding foreclosure. (Wells Fargo sent us the foreclosure notice a few weeks ago, and the city knew about it when it denied the plea).

At this point, my family only wants this nightmare to end. A very sad end for our years in Duluth, which had been, until this point, some of the best years in our lives. The bitter irony is that the worst abuse against our property rights had to happen, among all countries, right there in America.

You can read more about our case in my blog:

The 300 Foot Rule, or How the City of Duluth is Helping Me to Lose My House to Foreclosure

markm

about 9 years ago

We decided to not try to get the exemption due to the $125 non refundable fee charged to have the committee hear our case.  That and a trip back to Duluth and missed work days seemed like an expensive gamble.  We did have a person interested in renting our house for 6 months.

Happily, if all goes well, we will be closing on our house the last day of November.

dbb

about 9 years ago

I'm pretty sure banks foreclose on properties, not the city. I'm also pretty sure that they only do so long after you've stopped making payments on the mortgage. 

How about taking some responsibility for your actions, or at least acknowledging that there are other issues at play in the real estate market before placing all of the blame squarely in the city's lap? To say that the 300' rule is the ONLY reason you are unable to sell your house is just you making the city into a scapegoat.

Pedro H. Albuquerque

about 9 years ago

dbb, it would be nice if, before writing such harsh words towards a fellow human being in a situation of real distress, you would be kind enough to disclose your identity.

Now, if you think that impeding my family from renting our own house is not at all responsibility of the city, then I can only hope that you won't find yourself one day impeded from doing the same when you really need to do it. Because what is happening to us could perfectly one day happen to you or to anyone else in Duluth.
Meanwhile, live long and prosper.

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

I'm not blaming the city for foreclosing on my house - you're right, it was the bank and my lack of funds that provided the foreclosure.
However, the inability to rent out my home (providing me with short-term income in order to prep it for sale) was a major factor in loosing my house.

However, on the bright side, someone bought the house cheap at auction and spent a lot of money fixing it up -- I'm glad it didn't just add to the empty-home ghetto in the area.

James

about 9 years ago

Must be pretty nice for $900 bucks a month!

davids

about 9 years ago

At $900 I will be subsidizing the mortgage and taxes (which come to about $1200/month). I'm not trying to make money here, just trying to reduce how much I am losing since the house has not sold in the current economic climate and I am no longer living in the house.

Lojasmo

about 9 years ago

Good deal.  If I could sell my house in Rochester, I would love to move up there.  Good luck.

Lojasmo

about 9 years ago

@mr. Albuquerque:  was going to ridicule for chastising others for hiding behind  a pseudonym, but clicked your profile.  Oops.  Your C V is stellar.

dbb

about 9 years ago

Mr. Albuquerque, 

I've reread my response to your post, and while I was direct I don't consider it overly harsh. 

I thought you were lumping all of your troubles with your home on the city for its enforcement of the 300' rule. I assumed that you attempted to sell the home prior to renting it out, and I would attribute any difficulties you had doing so more to other factors than the 300' rule. Declining property values and tight credit are issues nationwide, not just in Duluth. 

I didn't realize that my comments would be interpreted as being overly harsh and had no intention to be perceived as attacking someone from the cloak of anonymity. 

Regards, 
Dan Behrens

Pedro H. Albuquerque

about 9 years ago

Mr. Behrens, thanks for your considered response.

We're unable to sell the house for a price above mortgage balance, and renting it, even if for less than actual mortgage payment, at least would allow us to keep the house. Apparently there's strong demand for renting in the city, in part because people can't sell their houses in their cities of origin, and in part because of reduced rental units supply. So the city killed our only hope to maintain our house and our only connection left with the Northland.

What is even more interesting is that, by helping to force us into foreclosure, the city doesn't help itself nor its citizens. The City will lose tax revenues permanently since the house will surely sell for a much lower price than the previous estimate and will produce a lower stream of revenues not only for our house but for all other houses in the area. Once our house is sold by the bank (after foreclosure), it will displace another house that could have been sold otherwise, so the fall of the dominoes will be pushed one domino further. An the City (and the country) loses another stakeholder that could be adding to the maintenance of the City's and country's capital stock.

To this we must add that a family of, let's say, an accountant, a professor or a physician would otherwise be able to live in a nice house and neighborhood of Duluth. Obviously, this hypothetical family will be able to rent another house from somebody else, but this will displace another family that would like to rent that house, etc. The fact is that there will be one less house to rent in the market, and one more house to sell, this time by bank lawyers. How will this help the citizens of Duluth in the aggregate?

In the Public Finance course that I used to teach at UMD this would have been a perfect example of what's called a "government failure." The worst is knowing that, after it's over for us, the housing market may be back on its feet, or the 300-foot rule may have been put down by a new administration. Begs the question: why, oh why?

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