St. Paul landlord Kyle Coglitore's plea for restoration of his ability to rent to up to four college students was denied Wednesday night by the City Council.
Coglitore initially lost that right after city inspectors found nine people living in a house near the University of St. Thomas that was supposed to have only four student residents. On Wednesday, after hearing from a number of neighborhood residents, the council reaffirmed the city's move against him.
The vote doesn't mean he can't rent to nonstudents. And he still can rent to up to two undergraduates. But the restriction shrinks the pool of available tenants. Coglitore said after the council's vote that he is contemplating legal action against the city.
The former University of St. Thomas student, who bought the house and began renting it out several years ago while still a student, argued that the city had wrongly taken away his only steady source of income.
"The neighbors just don't want college kids on that block, and I think they're finding a way to get rid of me," he said of a house he's owned since July 2013.
His neighbors, however, expressed zero sympathy. Residents of the area, just a couple of blocks north of the St. Thomas campus, have long lamented the continuing misdeeds of area student renters, with several saying Coglitore's property has been one of the more notorious addresses.
After years of fighting off-campus parties, illegal drinking and other student misbehavior, many seemed elated that the city is removing at least one home from their list of frustrations.
Steve Levin, a neighbor, said the house "is one of the most egregious party places on the north side of Marshall Avenue. … I've had kids stumble drunk up to my front door."
It wasn't a party that got Coglitore into hot water, but having too many renters in the house. While the landlord insists he didn't know about the additional residents, city officials say nine students were living in the house when a maximum of four is allowed under the city's Student Housing Ordinance.
A Department of Safety and Inspections fire inspector visited the property on Sept. 14, 2017, in response to a complaint. The inspector found it occupied by nine student renters, instead of the allowable four undergraduate students, although it appeared that the extra five young men had moved out before the inspector arrived.
According to a staff report, the inspector met with Coglitore on Sept. 15 and, on Sept. 18, revoked his certificate of occupancy allowing him to rent to students.
Coglitore said that when he met with the inspector, the inspector warned him that if he "caught the boys" back in the house, he would revoke his certificate. Shortly after, the landlord said his renters told him the extra guys had stored their things in a U-Haul and planned to move back the next day. Afraid he would lose his license, Coglitore said he tried to be proactive and had his girlfriend place a complaint to the city.
Instead of protecting him, he said, that call is what prompted the revocation.
Coglitore argued Wednesday that since the inspector proceeded from a warning to revocation without the tenants actually moving back into the house, the revocation was wrong. His lawyer, Loren Solfest, argued that since the property was a student rental before the city passed the student housing ordinance, he did not violate city law by having too many renters.
Amy Gage, St. Thomas director of neighborhood relations, said she believes the incident is a wake-up call to student renters and landlords.