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Amendment lowers rental registration fee

May 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday approved an amendment that will lower the cost of a planned rental registration program from $45 per unit annually to $39 per unit as part of an agreement between the city and the Landlords and Property Owners Association of Washington County.

The city says the program, even with the revisions, will improve the quality of rental property in the city.

The ordinance was introduced last week.

In October, the association launched an effort to take to referendum the city's rental registration program ordinance, but the campaign fell 39 signatures short.

In December, the association filed a petition for judicial review that asks the court to determine whether the number of signatures counted was correct.

City and association officials have been meeting to talk about the association's objections to the program, under which the city would inspect about 8,000 rental units, Chief Code Compliance Inspector John Lestitian has said.

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The association will drop its legal action in exchange for the changes to the rental program that the city approved this week, city officials said.

Under the previously adopted version of the ordinance, all rental properties were to be inspected after a rental license application was submitted and then every three years, or sooner when there was a change in occupancy.

Under the change approved by the council Tuesday, the first complete inspection would not occur until there is tenant turnover. Future inspections would occur when there is turnover but not more frequently than every three years.

In addition, under the amended version of the ordinance, the program would expire five years after its start if no action is taken to continue it. There previously was no such clause.

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