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You will find answers to many of your questions in our Secure and Friendly Environments in Cedar Rapids (SAFE-CR) frequently asked questions below.  We have also provided more comprehensive answers to frequently asked questions in the following categories:

Background Checks FAQs

Housing FAQs

Landlord FAQs

SAFE-CR

What is the SAFE-CR Program?
The SAFE-CR program stands for Secure and Friendly Environments in Cedar Rapids. The program was formed to hold property owners accountable to their neighborhoods. Activities that are a detriment to a neighborhood have been identified as nuisance activities and compiled into the Chapter 22A Ordinance which can be found at the SAFE-CR website.
Are there other cities doing this?
The SAFE-CR program has been modeled after Cities with similar programs including Davenport, Milwaukee, Iowa City, Des Moines and other cities that the City of Cedar Rapids researched to compare models.
What is the benefit of addressing crime through property owners?
The SAFE-CR program is not addressing crime through property owners, The City of Cedar Rapids has an interest in ensuring a higher quality of life for its citizens, preserving property values, and controlling costs of taxpayer funded services including police, fire, and property code enforcement.
Does the ordinance only pertain to rental properties?
The ordinances that drive the SAFE-CR program encompass all properties. As the program is implemented, we anticipate that the properties with a history of founded nuisance activity will be the main focus, and other properties will be managed through the system as nuisance activity occurs.
How will success of the SAFE-CR program be measured?
The metrics of the program will be closely tracked by our data analyst. They will prepare reports to be provided to a variety of community stakeholders.
How will I be notified when nuisance activity occurs on my property?
The City’s intent is to notify the property owner of founded nuisance activity by sending them a Notice of Violation. In an attempt to help with that notification process, landlords are asked to provide an e-mail address at the time they register the property. Chapter 29 requires landlords to update the information as it changes. The Notice of Violation will be delivered in person or sent by USPS Certified Mail and will include a brief outline as to what occurred at the property.
When does my property become a nuisance property?
Chapter 22A.03 details the definition of what a nuisance property is and what criminal and civil violations qualify that property to be a nuisance.
Who should I contact once my property is designated a nuisance property?

The City has hired a Nuisance Property Abatement Coordinator (NPAC) who is charged with assisting property owners in abating their nuisances. They will monitor and coordinate efforts of all City Departments to address the problems in our community.

Questions can be directed to:

Amanda Grieder
Telephone: 319-286-5714
Email:  a.grieder@cedar-rapids.org

Annette Lorenz
Telephone: 319-286-5701
Email: a.lorenz@cedar-rapids.org

Do I have any way to refute the designation as a nuisance property?
Chapter 22A allows for an administrative appeal. Any aggrieved party may submit a request for a hearing which shall be delivered to the NPAC in writing. Please see the SAFE-CR website for more information.

Upon receipt of a timely request for hearing, the NPAC shall set a hearing to be held within 30 days from said receipt and, further, shall give at least 10 days’ notice to the requesting party of the time, date, and location of said hearing. The hearing may be reset by agreement of the requesting party, the City and the hearing officer, as confirmed in writing, but in no event shall the hearing be held any later than 60 days after the date of the action or decision being appealed.

At the time of the hearing, the requesting party and NPAC shall be afforded the opportunity to present evidence and arguments. The formal rules of evidence and procedure will NOT apply. Legal counsel will not be required but will be permitted.

What is a Nuisance Property Abatement Plan?
A Nuisance Property Abatement Plan is a written plan which is developed by a property owner, whether or not it is developed in consultation with the Nuisance Property Abatement Coordinator, pursuant to which the property owner undertakes corrective action at a nuisance property.
Am I required to evict problem tenants?
No, the Nuisance Property Abatement Coordinator makes no recommendations to the property owner as to what steps the property owner takes; we simply provide oversight to ensure that the nuisance condition is corrected. Failure of a property owner to abate the nuisance will result in service delivery fees and could include restrictions from registering and renting property.
I am an owner occupied residence. What if I refuse to pay for these services?
You could be subject to further collection efforts.
Does the program differentiate between complexes that have 150 units compared to a duplex when determining if the property is a nuisance property?
The SAFE-CR program identifies individual units. Nuisance activities are linked to individual units within a complex, not to the complex as a whole. Therefore, a Nuisance Property may be a single unit of a 150 unit apartment complex, or one side of a duplex or a single family dwelling.
What is the hourly charge for police service once my property has been designated as a nuisance property?
The charge is $94.00 per hour per officer. Please see the attached Rate Model for more information.
Background checks are required by Chapter 29. What is a minimum background check and why should I do one on my prospective tenants?
The City examined the success of other communities with similar programs and learned that each successful program all had a background check service provided to property owners and landlords. Chapter 29 requires that a background check be performed on all persons 18 years of age or older who newly occupy a rental unit after July 1, 2013, whether or not the person(s) has signed a lease.
 
At minimum, a background check needs to include a report of activity from Iowa Courts Online and a report from the Iowa Sex Offender Registry and National Sex Offender Registry website maintained by the United States Department of Justice.
 
The City of Cedar Rapids has partnered with Fidelis Screening Solutions to offer a low-cost, comprehensive background check option for landlords. The cost to receive a background check on one prospective tenant is $8 made payable to Fidelis. This fee includes a 50 state criminal background and sex offender registry check (including Cedar Rapids PD arrests), terrorist database check, and an Iowa warrants check. A background check can be obtained through the Fidelis website in less than 48 hours.
Who is required to attend Rental Business Training?
Per Chapter 29, all residential rental property managers are required to take the training to acquire a Landlord Business Permit prior to July 1st, 2014. A property manager is defined as the party responsible for the day to day maintenance, operation and management of a rental property. This may be an owner or another party hired by the owner, either through contract or employment. Only one designee is required to attend if the rental is owned by a partnership, LLC, or property management company.

All Landlord Business Permit holders who have not attended the required Rental Business Training course by July 1, 2014 will not be able to register their rental unit. You will not be able to lease your property and may result in municipal infractions.

The training is a one-time requirement unless you have property that becomes a nuisance property. In this instance, that Property Manager will be required to take the training again prior to their next rental unit registration being issued.

The cost for the training is $50.

The training agenda includes information to help persons operating a Rental Business within the City of Cedar Rapids understand the expectations of the City and neighborhoods.

I am a property owner who rents out my property to a family member and I live out of town. Do I still need to attend Rental Business Training?
Per Chapter 29 of the Cedar Rapids Municipal Code, anyone who is a rental property owner or their property manager does need to attend Rental Business Training to be in compliance with the law. If the owner is renting to a family member, they are still considered to be a landlord under the ordinance. As a result, someone listed on the Landlord Business Permit (either the property owner or the property manager) is required by Chapter 29 to attend the Rental Business Training course.
What resources are available to assist property owners?
Please see our Property Owner Resource page for more information.
Doesn't this discriminate against my potential tenants?
No. The Federal Fair Housing Act has seven protected classes. The seven protected classes relate to a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability). A person’s behavior is not a protected class. The ordinance is intended to deal with a tenant’s or tenant’s friends’ and associates’ criminal or excessive nuisance behavior that is impacting the health, safety, or quality of life of a neighborhood regardless of the tenant’s race, ethnic background, or income status.
I am a landlord, how can you hold me accountable for someone else's actions?
The City of Cedar Rapids has a responsibility to provide services to all persons. In the events where a property uses these calls for services excessively due to the lifestyle of actions of individuals who live, work or frequent there, the other taxpayers of the city should not have to pay more because of the excessive calls of a few. If a property is responsible for excessive calls for service, it is only fair that the owner of that property pay for the excessive calls for service.

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