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Charges filed against four owners of rental property

December 04, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

At the City of Hagerstown's request, Washington County District Court filed misdemeanor criminal charges Wednesday against four property owners who the city says failed to register with the city's rental registration program.

Also Wednesday, the city dropped its request for charges against a fifth property owner, Douglas Diehl, Program Manager Amanda Miller said.

Diehl met with Miller Wednesday morning and registered his properties.

Diehl said Tuesday he already had registered for the program. His name was one of five displayed on a screen as part of a presentation Miller made to the council during Tuesday's work session.

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The city submitted its paperwork to the court earlier Tuesday.

The city will not comment on the specific people against whom the paperwork was filed, John Lestitian, chief of code compliance, said.

The rental registration program, which went into effect June 20, requires rental property owners in the city to submit registration applications and pay an annual fee of $39 per unit.

Operating rental property without a license is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 per unit and/or six months in jail, Miller said.

As of this week, about 65 property owners who own about 200 rental units in the city had failed to comply with the ordinance, Miller said.

At the request of the Washington County State's Attorney's Office, the city plans to send 10 cases at a time for prosecution instead of submitting them all at once. A random number table was used to determine the first 10.

On Nov. 5, the first 10 were served with a notice of violation and given 20 days to file an appeal or comply with the ordinance.

Of those 10, six have since registered their properties.

The four property owners charged are:

  • William W. Smith IV, for two units he owns at 12 East Ave. He registered one unit but has three there, the city alleges.

  • J. Michael Vaia and Joyce Vaia, whom the city plans to charge separately for two units they own at 230 N. Potomac St.

  • Craig Kline, for one unit he owns at 117 Randolph Ave.
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