COVINGTON, Ky. – If you own property and rent it out in the City of Covington, you can now apply online for the City’s new rental license – whether you’re a landlord who rents property long term or a homeowner seeking to make a little cash using the “Airbnb” model.
The online application is part of a comprehensive look at rental housing in Covington that City officials took over the last year to streamline the process for property owners and protect tenants and neighbors.
Three different licenses are available at the link, found HERE.
- A Short-Term Rental License Application, required for owners renting property for 29 days or less, such as under the popular Airbnb brand. This is a new application required annually as Covington last year joined cities around the nation in creating common-sense rules for these types of rentals to protect neighbors and tenants, as explained HERE.
- A Rental License Application, for more common long-term rentals. This is an update of the previous license, as explained last fall in a previous release, HERE.
- A Temporary Housing Shelter License, required for officials operating homeless shelters, transitional housing, sober-living homes, and boarding/rooming houses. This was also adopted last year as the City created a regulatory framework to shield neighbors from potential negative impacts.
The new license and inspection system for long-term rentals have a simple goal – to ensure safe and sanitary housing throughout the City – and to do so in a way that balances the needs of renters with those of property owners, Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said.
“We’ve made some changes that make it easier for landlords to navigate the system, and we’ve also moved further toward a ‘compliance’ approach instead of a ‘punitive’ one when it comes to making sure properties are kept up,” Smith said. “We want safe housing, and that’s best achieved when there’s accountability and collaboration.”
Current licenses for long-term rentals expire April 15. The new system is different in several ways:
- It moves from a one-year license to a three-year license, lessening the frequency with which landlords have to apply.
- It requires only one license per parcel, no matter how many units are rented at that location.
- It changes the penalty from operating without a license from a criminal offense to a civil offense, with the fine for a first-time offense set at $250 (instead of potential jail time).
- It creates a small license fee to help pay a portion of the costs of inspections, starting at $30 (every three years) for a parcel that has a single rental unit and rising to $150 for 100-plus units.
- And it requires an inspection when a license is granted, rather than reserving inspections for when complaints are made.
Smith said the City initially will issue “provisional licenses” and stagger the required initial inspections over three years, since there isn’t enough staff to do every inspection by April 15.
The inspections, which are completed by the City’s Code Enforcement division, primarily look for unsafe or unsanitary conditions, not cosmetic issues or minor repairs, he said.
The short-term rental license was created by the Board of Commissioners in December to do two things: Gather information about the number of units being rented in the city – including who is operating them and where – and establish a regulatory framework with common-sense rules to prevent problems with neighbors and ensure the safety of those who pay to rent them.
The licenses must be renewed every calendar year and require an inspection to make sure the units meet basic building code and fire safety requirements. Just like with long-term rentals, provisional licenses will be granted at the start until all the inspections can be scheduled.