Rental License Bill Approved Last Week By Frederick Board Of Aldermen

All owners of rental properties in Frederick will need a license.

Frederick, Md. (KM) РA bill requiring the owners of rental properties in the city of Frederick to be licensed was approved last week by the Board of Aldermen. Starting on January 1st, 2024, these owners would need to register for a license which costs $120. The money collected would be used to fund the program, Two-percent of annual excess revenue would fund a tenant protection program. Remaining excess would go to an affordable housing conservation program which would be administered  through the Housing Division of the Department of Human Services.

The legislation was sponsored by Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak. “I believe the protection its going to provide to those renters, and, by the way, to the actual owners of the property, is worth the cost,” she said. “The affordable housing conservation fund is meant to protect and hopefully expand affordable housing in the city.”

The measure says any landlord found operating rental housing units without a license could face a fine of up to $1,000. At least 15% of all residential rental units would undergo annual and random inspection each year to make sure they are in compliance with building and safety standards. There is no charge for the first annual inspection and no charge if there’s one reinspection after that.   But there would a $300 fee for a reinspection if the unit passes, and a revocation of the rental license if it fails.

Tony Chechia, the President of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, testified against the law. “The ordinance, if adopted, we believe will absolutely result in immediate increase in rental rates to properties resulting in low to moderate income senior tenants becoming more housing stressed in an increasingly housing instability in an already overstressed marketplace,” he said.

Liz Tinker said requiring landlords to be licensed is not the answer. She supported registering rental properties. “Let’s start with registration Let’s start with working with the landlords. Let’s see what we really have and what the real issues are,” she said.;

Pam Burk said this legislation is being considered without any evidence to show it’s necessary. “Good governance, it seems to me, would require that the Aldermen and the Mayor only pass legislation as all encompassing as this when other less permanent and less costly and less intrusive solutions have been attempted and failed,” she said.

But Seth Christersmith with Maryland Legal Aid supported this bill. “We believe this ordinance represents an important step forward in insuring health, safety welfare of residents in the city of Frederick, including the most vulnerable residents whom we heard much about this evening who are very often our clients,” he said.

Alderwomen Kuzemchak and Katie Nash, and Aldermen Ben MacShane voted in favor of the legislation. Alderman Kelly Russell voted against, and Alderman Derek Shackelford abstained.

By Kevin McManus