Owners of rental homes in Frederick could face a new fee and regulations under legislation proposed by a city alderwoman for licensing the properties.

The proposal by Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak would require inspections every four years to make sure they meet basic safety requirements as well as an annual fee of $120.

Kuzemchak said the measures are about improving safety in the city’s more than 10,500 rental units.

While the city has a lot of older homes, she said, the inspections would look for basic safety violations such as exposed and frayed wires, the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, sufficient emergency exits and infestation, among other issues.

Kuzemchak said she tried not to make the fees too expensive, and the fees would help create a fund to provide no-interest or low-interest loans to landlords to help them make repairs and renovations for properties that don’t meet the standards.

Violations would be a civil penalty, with a fine of up to $1,000 for every day the violation is allowed to continue.

Kuzemchak said she’s heard from several people who have lived in properties that were unsafe, but they were afraid to complain because it could have meant losing their place to live.

Her bill would prohibit landlords from evicting residents who file a complaint with the city, increasing the tenant’s rent for at least a year or engaging in other retaliatory behavior.

The alderwoman said she wants to get feedback on the legislation from the Frederick County Association of Realtors and other groups, as well as from landlords and renters.

“It’s really important to me that FCAR and rental owners are involved in the process, as should be renters,” she said.

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@RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(17) comments

KellyAlzan

As a landlord owning rental properties in the city, this is government over reach.

I keep a structured rental environment. If it becomes necessary to raise rent....then I’m raising rent. If I have a problem tenant....then I tell them they must vacate.

This lady is clueless. It’s a proposed law with opportunity for multiple loop holes. All a tenant would have to do is complain about the refrigerator being 3 degrees too cold and then I can’t evict them!

Maryland already has rented laws. Leave well enough alone.

petersamuel

This is unnecessary. A rational landlord will usually look out for unsafe conditions and fix them without City inspectors. Or fix them when told about the problem by the tenant. No sensible landlord wants a bad reputation for having an unsafe buiiding. Besides the cost of the fixes is usually less than the cost of a fire or a fall that their neglect might cause. The City already checks on fire detectors and extinguishers. Other unsafe conditions can be reported to the City's building inspectors, anonymously if necessary. The proposed $120 fee will largely be passed on to renters -- making rental housing less affordable. Maybe a few rental units are problematic. Ald Kuzemchak doesn't provide any evidence that it's a major problem. Requiring all rental properties to be registered and inspected is regulatory over-reach that will do more harm than good.

teadoffinfrederickcounty

[thumbdown]

John Ashbury

Been a lanlord in Frederick/Frederick/Carroll Counties for more than 40 years. Most of the rental properties in Frederick and Frederick County already have an inspection for lead paint that costs about $1000 per unit to prepare for the lead inspection - and depending on the size of the unit, that inspection can cost up to an additional $500. Another fee will drive up the cost of rent to the renter - and likely will cause a turnover in tenants leading to all kinds of additional expense to the landlord and the tenant (finding a new place) and filling the city's coffers with unregulated slush funds. Another bad idea from this alderman.

trwz

I am very fortunate, at this time, to have wonderful renters. This is the reason that I keep the rent low. I try to keep the properties in good condition and replace what is needed. However, if this proposal becomes active, I'll sell the properties. Enough is enough. This is a slap in my face for doing and keeping my properties in good condition.

Francine9

They will find ways to need to use the money to monitor it's use. Vicious and costly circle. Unnecessary bureaucracy that will drive rents up.

bosco

I missed the part where she stated how many rental properties she owns.

public-redux

I missed the part where anyone said she isn’t an elected official.

sevenstones1000

I am neither a landlord nor a tenant, but I have worked with both and I would only caution that before you put a new system in place, consider how easily it can be gamed.

Tenants who don’t want to pay rent are as wily as any landlords.

tatt2ed

seven... My thoughts exactly. "Her bill would prohibit landlords from evicting residents who file a complaint with the city, increasing the tenant’s rent for at least a year or engaging in other retaliatory behavior."

What is to stop a tenant from simply filing a complaint a year to prevent a rate increase? There seems to be no action against a renter who falsely files a complaint.

linoscra

Sure there is. When you rent, to some extent you know you are at the mercy of the landlord. You are in a powerless position, so most keep their mouths shut about violations. Of course, this wouldn’t change that situation either.

Dwasserba

Which part of the lease agreement is breaking down, and what route does a tenant or landlord take to resolve it? If the tenant doesn't know, or the landlord doesn't, throwing money at a perceived issue won't fix it.

micky

This is a sure way to drive rents even higher and reduce the stock of private rental property.

Rockfish

I'm afraid this could be a slippery slope giving tenants to much power over their landlords. Landlords have rights too.

Cowell

This is asinine charging a fee to property owner. Government has no business collecting this fee. Stay the course making sure the streets do not flood, keeping the city safe, collecting trash and so forth.

trwz

[thumbup]

TomWheatley

But, but, but ... this was a spot where Government can stick their nose further into things.

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