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Landlord sign-up draws comment

August 09, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Most Hagerstown residents renting property interviewed Wednesday and Thursday said they oppose a proposed city landlord registration program, which landlords say could result in rent hikes.

"Landlords charge too much as it is," Barry Wedlock said.

"I think it's stupid," Annie Shumaker said.

At its July 16 meeting, the Hagerstown City Council gave general approval to creation of the program, which is intended to help the city improve rental housing to prevent people from living in substandard apartments.

The City Council would have to adopt a new ordinance for the program to go into effect, and a public hearing would be held.

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Under the proposal, rental properties would be inspected at least once a year instead of only in response to complaints.

Landlords would be required to pay an annual fee of $45 per rental unit to fund more frequent inspections of rental properties.

City officials have said they expect landlords to pass that cost on to tenants.

"I don't like the idea. I pay enough now," Steve Bowman said.

"I don't agree with it," Jason Shanholtz said.

A rent increase would be hard for people with low incomes, said Sam Woolcock, who said he did not think the program was needed.

Some said they support the proposal.

Debbie Flanagan said she likes the idea, especially if it would mean landlords would do more maintenance work for their tenants.

"It is a good idea," Barb Smith said.

According to Census 2000 statistics, the city has 9,214 rental units.

About 20,000 people in Hagerstown live in rental housing, city officials said.

The 2000 Census said the city's population is 36,687.

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