Balto. County Council extends rental inspections

December 18, 2007|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,Sun reporter

The Baltimore County Council extended an inspection program for rental housing to the entire county last night, a measure that supporters say will crack down on poorly kept properties.

Under the bill, which passed by a 4-3 vote, owners of buildings containing six or fewer rental units must hire contractors to inspect the homes every three years and obtain rental licenses. Violators would face daily fines of $1,000.

Councilmen Stephen G. Samuel Moxley of Catonsville and Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton, both Democrats, and T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican, voted against the bill. Moxley voiced concerns about the county's ability to enforce program regulations.

The program is in place in about a dozen communities, but county officials say they have been unable to consistently enforce regulations because of a shortage of enforcement officers.

The bill's sponsors - Democrats John A. Olszewski Sr. of Dundalk, Vincent J. Gardina of Towson-Perry Hall and Kenneth N. Oliver of Randallstown - said enforcement will not be a problem because county employees will no longer be doing the inspections.

Olszewski said the inspections will identify faulty smoke detectors, plumbing problems, nonworking windows and other safety hazards.

"Like every other business, there are health and safety issues that need to be addressed," Ols- zewski said.

Several community leaders had testified the inspections would force landlords to keep up their properties.

Some property owners had contended that the fees would burden landlords. They said a councilman's estimate of the fees at $100 to $150 was considerably low.

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