Westminster's mayor and Common Council considered revisions to a proposed landlord licensing ordinance at Monday night's regularly scheduled meeting and the council voted unanimously to send the revised ordinance to a public hearing. A date has not been set for the public hearing.
Common Council members put together the Rental Licensing & Inspection Program Task Force last spring. The task force presented a series of recommendations to the council in early October and held a public hearing in early November. Following the hearing, council members asked the task force to revise the proposed ordinance based on citizen and council input.
At Monday night's council meeting, Thomas Beyard and task force chairman Dan Huff shared the recommended revisions.
The task force suggested requiring inspections based on complaints rather than requiring across the board inspections. Also on the list of recommendations is the inclusion of a sunset provision so that the council will be required to vote to continue the program in three years after an assessment of its effectiveness.
Council member Robert Wack said that overall he thought the revised recommendations were good but he took issue with the sunset provision.
"This has been a problem for 40-50 years, I don't think it will magically disappear in three years," Wack said. "The council can decide at any time to change or discontinue the program."
Council member Tony Chiavacci responded that the provision forces the council to revisit the effectiveness of the program in three years.
"We don’t have a lot of data right now to know what we’re dealing with," Chiavacci said. "I think that it [the sunset provision] will give us an opportunity to come back in three years and let us know if it’s working."
The task force suggested a three-member board of appeals be created so that landlords can appeal the action of a code official without having to go to court.
Beyard said that is it important for landlords to register their rental units and to apply for licenses. People who submit their license applications on time will pay a $20 fee per license, Beyard said. The fees will increase for landlords who do not get a license in the alotted time frame.
"When we went back and looked at this, our goal was to come up with something both friendly and painless for people who are doing what they are supposed to be doing," Huff said. "But we also wanted something that gives the city teeth to deal with problem properties."