County landlords to meet to home in on code changes, find strength in numbers

October 04, 2001|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SUN STAFF

Carroll County landlords want to form an association to help them keep up with ever-changing housing codes.

Landlords often are unaware of sporadic changes and additions to housing laws and, without such knowledge, cannot conform, supporters of the group said. Landlords then are vulnerable to penalties such as fines, citations and demolition imposed by county government, organizers said.

Organizers want to call the association the Landlords Association Group for Landlords of Carroll County.

The group is scheduled to hold its first meeting tonight to organize and recruit members.

"If [landlords] work as individuals, we really won't get anywhere," said Andrew Shaw, who is organizing the association.

The Westminster native, who owns several properties in the county, said he has wanted to create an association for more than 10 years.

According to the county's Bureau of Housing and Community Development, Carroll has more than 250 landlords.

"It's extremely important that landlords be informed and advised. This will make for a much better class of apartments and tenants. I see all pluses in making this organization," Shaw said.

Housing law modifications apparently occur fairly rapidly and unpredictably. Westminster adopted a new property maintenance code in June. Hampstead enacted its code a few months earlier.

Shaw will get help reaching his goal for the association.

Mike Ritter of the Bureau of Housing said several members of his staff have been assigned to aid the landlords association and will attend tonight's meeting to provide support.

But Ritter stressed: "We work with landlords and tenants."

Sgt. Michael Bible, community education officer for Westminster Police Department, said, "We've gotten numerous calls from landlords, and they are very concerned about what kinds of tenants rent their property and how to weed out bad tenants."

Bible said the group would like to teach interviewing skills so landlords can spot potential problem tenants before rental contracts are signed.

Shaw said it's not the association's intention to create an adversarial relationship with the handful of county tenants associations.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Westminster library branch, 50 E. Main St. Information: 410-386-3600.

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