Landlord licensing committee presents recommendations to council

Improving the conditions and safety of apartment tenants and property owners while improving the relationships between the two groups are key goals of recommendations made by a so-called landlord licensing committee to the Logan Municipal Council Tuesday night.Blythe Ahlstrom, the man who served as chair of the 14-member committee, presented an executive summary of the committee’s recommendations Tuesday. Ahlstrom said he’d heard the committee called a number of terms ranging from landlord licensing to rental licensing, but said the committee preferred to be viewed as a committee investigating “business licenses for landlords.”The recommendations revolve around rewarding good landlords and creating a mediation process for landlord-tenant disputes before going immediately to the city with complaints.”We would recommend a review process for referring landlord-tenant issues to a private landlord-tenant volunteer mediation group,” Ahlstrom said. “There may be some possibility of short-cutting some of the complaints before going to official complaints with the city.”There would be a per-landlord fee associated with the landlord licenses, but Ahlstrom said the committee recommended the city review the fee structure for business licenses for landlords and provide some incentive in the form of decreased fees to those landlords who participate in a “good landlord” program. A good landlord program would likely consist of providing educational opportunities about proper property owner practices and would provide some nice perks for landlords such as receiving courtesy calls from police when there is significant law enforcement activity at one of their units.The landlord licensing proposal has been a hot-button issue in Logan ever since it was brought up last year, with property owners complaining about the city getting involved in private property matters, doubling up on procedures it already had for resolving landlord-tenant disputes and making government bigger through inspections.Mark Lunt, one of the committee members, said the group debated hard over inspections, but decided to recommend that inspections of apartments would not be mandatory and would happen on a complaint basis only.Other recommendations made by Ahlstrom included the city reviewing its winter parking ordinance and consider changing the schedules and fees associated with winter parking, including in some cases decreasing fees. A full copy of the committee’s recommendations is expected to be uploaded to Logan’s Web site sometime Wednesday morning.Audio of Ahlstrom’s presentation to the council can be heard below.

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