By Divya Shiv, MPP, Albuquerque Journal
April 30, 2023

Everyone deserves the safety and security that comes from stable housing, and housing outcomes are improved when lawmakers enact sound policies. Good policies, however, require good data, and without knowing the needs of landlords and renters, it’s impossible for lawmakers to identify ways to help city residents, improve housing security, and make Albuquerque stronger in the process. 

Fortunately, the Albuquerque City Council has the opportunity to address this underlying barrier to better housing policies by passing O-22-59, which proposes a simple solution: create a rental database. By passing O-22-59, Albuquerque would be able to gather data about the city’s residential rental market, improve communications between the city and landlords, and protect the health and well-being of rental occupants. In fact, Albuquerque already has a database of short-term rentals for individuals who rent their homes through platforms like Airbnb or VRBO because creating a database is a simple, logical approach to understanding and addressing housing outcomes.

Rental databases are particularly helpful for mom-and-pop landlords. Small landlords face different challenges than large-scale landlords and own an increasingly smaller portion of rental units compared to investor-landlords. The easiest way to support landlords is through a rental database so lawmakers can implement specific policies and target their outreach to address the issues that mom-and-pop landlords face. For example, Philadelphia has a rental registry, which helps the city provide landlords up to $25,000 for property improvement. 

By helping mom-and-pop landlords, a rental database also helps the more than 95,000 renters in the city. This is because mom-and-pop landlords are more likely to offer affordable rental housing options and are more likely to rent to tenants of color compared to large-scale landlords. Therefore, setting up a rental database and providing targeted support to mom-and-pop landlords allows Albuquerque to maintain its affordable housing and provide more housing options to residents of color. 

In addition, rental databases protect the health and well-being of tenants by improving code enforcement. In fact, an analysis of rental property registration in Austin found that code inspectors used the city’s rental database to track and prioritize the most hazardous properties so the city could work with landlords to take appropriate action. Before the rental database, inspections were driven by complaints, which was difficult because tenants did not always report code violations for fear of retaliation. Effective code enforcement is essential to ensure healthy and safe housing, which is important given that substandard housing can lead to negative health outcomes like chronic disease and injury. A rental database would also allow Albuquerque to identify households at risk of displacement, facilitate community outreach, and better enforce existing tenant protections. 

Given the positive impacts of a rental database for landlords and tenants, Albuquerque should join the growing number of municipalities that already use a rental database, such as the 20 cities in Texas and the eight cities in California. When the City Council meets on Monday, May 1, members should pass O-22-59 to build a foundation for good rental policies, improve housing outcomes, and create a city where every resident can access the housing they need to succeed and thrive.

Find out who your city councilor is here or to sign up for public comment at an Albuquerque City Council meeting here.

Divya Shiv, MPP, is a research and policy analyst at New Mexico Voices for Children.