Landlord: Policy for rentals too restrictive
by Nikki Wiley
July 14, 2013 12:17 AM | 5309 views | 7 7 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — One Cobb County landlord didn’t think he was breaking the rules when he rented his Kennesaw home to three students, but he soon learned differently.

Dan Beckwith of Kennesaw was denied a request by the Cobb County Planning Commission earlier this week to allow his three tenants, who began renting last summer, to remain in the home until July 2014.

Under county ordinance, only two unrelated adults can live in a home regardless of the number of bedrooms.

Rob Hosack, director of the Cobb County Community Development Agency, says the rule was created to target older homes in south Cobb where multiple individuals lived in small spaces.

Beckwith was given a notice of violation after a neighbor complained about the number of cars in the driveway, and he appeared before the planning commission Monday to request a temporary exemption to allow his tenants attending Kennesaw State University to remain in the home for another year.

He wasn’t aware of the ordinance and says it is overreaching.

“A lot of the laws, in my opinion, they don’t make sense,” Beckwith said. “How can you have anybody obey a law that doesn’t make sense?”

Chris Norris, Realtor and owner of the Marietta-based Jackson and King Agency, agrees.

“Two seems fairly restrictive to me,” Norris said.

Though the mandate may not have intended to target college students, that’s what it does, Norris said, because younger renters are more likely to share a home with multiple friends.

“It certainly becomes less common as people get older,” Norris said.

Norris had to turn down potential tenants recently who wanted to rent a three bedroom home between five residents. Many homeowners who rent properties aren’t aware of the ordinance, but because Norris is a licensed Realtor, he said he can’t take chances.

“Your best chance is going to be to find somebody that’s got a rent by owner sign out there and is unaware of the law,” Norris said he told the tenants he turned away.

There’s no requirement for private landlords to register with the county so enforcement is spotty and mostly driven by complaints.

“Half of the complaints that we get, and we don’t get a lot, are up near KSU,” Hosack said.

If landlords find themselves in violation, there are multiple chances to correct the situation before facing a fine in magistrate court. Hosack said fines for first offenses are about $175.

Complying with the rule by moving all tenants except two from the home or appealing the violation with the planning commission will keep the landlord from receiving a fine. If the commission denies the request, extra tenants still have to be removed.

Norris maintains the rule disproportionately affects younger renters and could prevent Cobb County from attracting young adults.

“I’d like to see the city (of Marietta) and county attract more younger people,” Norris said.

Both say they understand the reasoning behind the ordinance but believe it is too strict.

Norris says three residents would be a more manageable amount. Beckwith puts that number at four.

“We weren’t trying to turn (the house) into a frat house,” Beckwith said. “We were just looking for an extension on the lease.”

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Cobb County Native
July 17, 2013
I feel that the county, states and governments are getting too restrictive. I know there are laws that should be followed, but college kids and young people just starting out need responsibility and having several in a home rather than an appartment is a safer place now.

If there is a three bedroom home there should be allowed three single people, and etc. Many of the newer home have more bedrooms, so the number occupants should be allowed according to the number bedrooms. If three legally married couples in a three bedroom home, six occupants should be allwed. Price of housing now many people cannot live in a home. This would help get many people off the street that are tyring to do what is right and have little income.

The county is too strict with rules now.

I am glad to see that they will allow chickens in many areas. Due to food cost the same problem arrises and housing. Funds are extremely short.

Many ordancies should be lifted and allow people to live free of worry about what an what they cannot do on their own land. Unless they are in a really small space of acres.
The Big Dawg
July 17, 2013
I too, am a Cobb County Native, 51 years and counting. I'm guessing that you have never lived next door to a house with multiple, unrelated tenants. They party all night, especially on weekends, let their friends spend the night, leave vehicles on the right of way or parked in the yard. And the owners of these houses allow them to fall about and that makes my property value drop. As i stated earlier, there are several apartment complexes, some with 3 and 4 bedrooms, that they can move into. These units are DESIGNED for multiple unrelated people to live in.
July 17, 2013
Our neighborhood just changed the covenants to not allow leasing of homes to anyone and they already say only one non related person can be in any home. This after several were purchased by an investment group for the sole purpose of renting out to KSU students. Now they all have to go after the current lease is up. sorry
July 15, 2013
I live in 99% single people dwellings that were designed to be that way and are optimally designed for that comfortably with occasional overnight guests. Maximum two people at the most. There is a family in here with three and sometimes four adults and three and sometimes five children on a good day. I guess some sleep on the floor? In the living room full time? To me, there are not enough laws. I won't go into the noise factor. Laws are necessary for people that cannot see beyond themselves.

July 15, 2013
I wonder how many rental homes in Cobb County are occupied by more that two unrelated adult Illegals.
The Big Dawg
July 14, 2013
The ordinance is NOT to restrictive. If anything, it is not being enforced enough. I live within one mile of KSU and there are several houses that have multiple unrelated tenants living in houses DESIGNED AS SINGLE FAMILY DWELLINGS, NOT "RENT BY THE ROOM UNITS." That is what apartment complexes are for.
Like restrictions
July 14, 2013
Without restrictions, you end up with what has happened in Athens. Nice neighborhood homes purchased by slumlords who rent to college kids. Now nice neighborhoods have turned into a mess with late night parties and families moving out. The homes are run down and the families driven out. The same thing with neighborhoods in South Cobb where you have too many people living in one house and cars everywhere. Good laws!
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