Rent plan expansion is tabled

County agency's report on pilot due in summer

November 18, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council tabled a bill last night that would have expanded a rental registration pilot program to five Towson-area neighborhoods.

Although the bill's sponsor, Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall-Towson Democrat, said the program was needed to prevent the decline of some neighborhoods in his district, other councilmen said they wanted to hear a report on the pilot program from the county's permits department before seeing it expanded. The report is due next summer.

The bill is opposed by the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors and landlords and tenants, mostly from neighborhoods near Towson University.

Gardina said after the meeting that he did not believe it was necessary to wait for the report, but rather than have the bill fail, he moved to table it.

The county's pilot program, enacted in spring last year, requires landlords to apply for a county license and agree to code enforcement inspections. It includes five east-side neighborhoods: Colgate, Hawthorne Park, Middlesex, Old Dundalk and St. Helena. Gardina sought to expand the program to Burkleigh Square, Oakley Manor, Ridgely Manor, Rodgers Forge and Towson Manor.

Wayne M. Skinner, who was the county councilman representing Towson before he lost in the Republican primary last year, said the reason he didn't include any Towson neighborhoods in the original bill was that Arnold Jablon, then director of Permits and Development Management, told him that the county didn't have the resources to effectively enforce rental registration.

Jablon's successor, Timothy M. Kotroco, said last week that Jablon was right - the county does not have enough code inspectors to seek out rental properties to make sure landlords register.

Kotroco said, however, that code inspectors have found about 330 unregistered rental properties in the course of other inspections and have been successful at bringing their owners into compliance with the law.

Gardina said he brought the bill forward because the number of rental properties in poor condition was so large that he feared neighborhoods could become destabilized if the county didn't take immediate action. He said that after his conversations with Kotroco, he is confident that the permits department will more vigorously administer the pilot program.

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