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.