Landlord licensing program explained, defended

A lively evening seems certain Tuesday when Logan City’s proposed Landlord Licensing program is discussed during a public hearing at the regular Municipal Council meeting. It will start at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Logan Community Development Director Jay Nielson outlined the program. “It would require inspection of each rental unit to be spread out over five or six years,” he said. “State law wouldn’t allow us to inspect more than once in three years. We would start with our priorities, the smaller rental units which we’ve observed have the most safety issues.” He said existing city staff would conduct the inspections. “We don’t intend to hire any new people for this, there are no new people in the budget. We believe by doing so we’ll make some significant improvement. They need to be inspected because some landlords simply don’t monitor themselves and they let rather difficult conditions exist in those units and they are safety related.” Nielson said the purpose of this licensing program is to resolve what he calls significant safety issues for tenants. “We’re out in units inspecting for other things, we do grandfathering inspections,” he said, “and we find there are significant safety issues in some, certainly not all. We get complaints from tenants and neighbors who know of some of the conditions.” He said the safety issues run the gamut. “There are some that are moldy, mold is a significant problem in some basement apartments. Cleanliness and filth is one of the issues, electrical, plumbing, mechanical conditions. We see gas pipe problems. People come in and do gas connections without them being inspected and we’ve recently found some gas pipe leaks that could have been almost a disaster.” What about those landlords who contend they are policing themselves. “Most are,” said Nielson, “that’s why we’ve proposed such a low fee for this. It’s $25 per landlord, not per unit. That’s a very nominal fee to charge and we’ll go out and do those inspections and when we find something that’s a life safety issue, we’ll ask them to be repaired. “Some believe we’re going to go in and ask for old rental units to be brought up to existing code. That’s not true at all. We just want to uncover the critical life safety issues and see that people are protected.” Nielson said there is an existing landlord-tenant code enacted 12 to 15 years ago, intended to outline the responsibilities of landlords and tenants. “Tenants have a responsibility to be responsible renters,” he said. “There is a list of 13 or 14 items to keep units safe, We would base our inspections on that existing law. We’re not creating a new list of inspection criteria.” Nielson agrees after Tuesday’s hearing the municipal council could put landlord licensing into effect. “They certainly could,” he said. “There have been some pleas to wait and think this through a little more thoroughly and work with the landlords and look at a good landlord program which other communities are using. “We certainly support reaching out more and taking a little more time to be a little more thorough.”

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