30-day notice tenant protection hangs on by a thread

Despite a last-minute push to stop it, Jackson’s first tenant protection – a 30-day notice requirement – passed its “first reading” tonight, and is on track to become law.

Every new town law must be approved three times, with public hearings every time – a great way to make sure that a community really wants that law, and gets input. The mayor and town council have also held a number of meetings and workshops about tenant protections, and heard extensive public input about how dire the rental market is (as well as hearing from a few lawyers and property managers who are paid by landlords and said there isn’t any problem for renters in Jackson).

Tonight was the first reading, and at first it seemed things were going smoothly for the 30-day notice requirement. The only public comment was support from Barbara Prescott of Teton County Access to Justice (previously on KHOL). Mayor Muldoon spoke for the tenant protection, and Councilor Jim Stanford did too.

Things took a turn when Councilor Bob Lenz said he would vote against it – because he thought it should be 50 days, not 30 days, and because he thought the maximum fine (set by state law) was too high. But he was open to discussion.

The real pushback came from Councilor Don Frank, who declared that “This ordinance is inequitable. There’s nothing in this ordinance that protects landlords. It’s a very one-sided ordinance.” Don spoke for many minutes about how this small step toward protecting tenants is unfair to landlords. We are shocked that he seems not to realize that the current housing market is extremely biased in favor of landlords – so this law is one small step towards making things more fair. But he went on in his opposition to the law.

Council also wanted to learn more about how the law would be enforced. Town Attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis and Assistant Attorney Lea Colasuonno provided excellent information in response, answering all of council’s questions with clear and detailed replies. This information seemed to assure council that the enforcement of the law would be handled well.

Before council voted, Don Frank made another attempt to stop the law, appealing to his fellow councilmembers to focus on educating tenants on what they should do differently, instead of passing a law to give them protection from unjust treatment.

Hailey Morton-Levinson had not expressed many opinions yet – making it unclear if the bill would pass or fail.

At the end of the night, the mayor called for the vote, and it was 3-2 in favor!

Voting for 30-day notice: Mayor Pete Muldoon, Jim Stanford, and Hailey Morton-Levinson.

Voting against: Don Frank and Bob Lenz.

ShelterJH applauds the council for taking another step in the direction of protecting our hard-working local renters.

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