Albany city commission wants to establish regulations for hotels and motels

April 19 – ALBANY – Renting rooms by the hour or as a permanent place of residence would no longer be allowed under an order being reviewed by the Albany City Commission.

The commission could vote later this month on the transitional quality housing ordinance presented during a working session on Tuesday. The order would apply to all hotels and motels in the city that rent five or more rooms.

Major hotels and operating chains are roughly meeting the standards set out in the order, but there have been issues in extended-stay operations, Commissioner Chad Warbington said.

“I think it’s something that needs to be done,” he said. “I think it’s time for our law enforcement (to act).”

Some of the establishments are hotspots for “crime, drugs, prostitution and human trafficking,” Warbington said. “By putting this in place, I think we will improve public safety.”

Among the rules that would apply to extended-stay facilities is one that would cap stays at six consecutive months under the draft order. A shorter maximum of 30 days is also under consideration. After a two-day break, the tenant could return.

Exceptions to this rule would apply in cases where a company or other organization has a contract to house workers or a person is providing care to a patient at a local hospital or has been displaced due to a natural disaster.

Among other provisions, hotel operators and staff would be required to report to management any crimes they witness or report.

Hotels and motels would also be required to document the identity of all tenants, keep records of all rental agreements and make them available to law enforcement upon request.

The rules put in place are common sense, Warbington said in a phone interview.

“Basically we don’t have any regulations for hotels and motels,” he said. “The majority is doing what it’s supposed to do, it’s just that lower level.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Bo Dorough suggested waiting until next month to let staff work on the document, particularly regarding which departments would be responsible for ensuring compliance.

“Obviously there needs to be a more aggressive (enforcement),” Dorough said. “It’s an issue where most of us didn’t know the situation was there.

“I think before we consider it we need to know exactly what the arrangements are and what the objectives are. We don’t need to put it on the books until we have the capacity to maintain it. It’s something I think we need to be more proactive about.”