A decision by the Indiana Supreme Court regarding rental fees could cost the city of West Lafayette a large sum of money.
The court’s decision eliminates a carve-out that had allowed the cities of Bloomington and West Lafayette -- with their large, transient college populations -- to charge more than $5 per unit for inspections or to register the unit with the city.
Last year, the West Lafayette City Council redrew an existing rental inspection ordinance to streamline some of the fees charged to landlords for city-run inspections of their buildings.
Those costs would have become easier to calculate, but were also slated to be significantly higher when they went into effect this June. Susan Morris, who co-owns West Lafayette-based Morris Rentals and the more than 100 units it operates, says the increase would have been a burden.
“They had talked about increasing that by over a hundred percent,” Morris says.
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis argues the decision doesn’t recognize the challenges college towns face.
“Its seems that at the state level, they’ve taken away a modicum of our local control," Dennis says.." You know, there’s a lot of things that college towns do that unique to other cities, even of similar size. And one of the mechanisms that we have to get some assurances on some of our rental properties is the ordinance that we were getting ready to implement here in the next few months.”
Dennis says he’s not sure if the city will challenge the Supreme Court ruling.
The city’s recent building boom triggered the ordinance’s restructuring. Construction on thousands of new bedrooms has begun since the State Street overhaul started near the Purdue campus in 2016.