Friday, September 21, 2007

Health and Safety. Young Renters Deserve Much Better.

If you enter the Western Washington University website and drill down to the page entitled Off Campus WWU (click here), you will find advice to the student renter. This site provides information on health and safety issues which may be encountered in renting housing. That the university must mention this to the students, more than suggests that there are problem properties and landlords in the totally uncontrolled rooming houses that have been created in just about every Bellingham neighborhood. I find it aberrant that the this city has no program to license, control or inspect these de facto rooming houses and leaves it to the young, first time renters to sink or swim on their own. Other cities have comprehensive landlord licensing codes. Minneapolis has had a code in effect since 1991. Click here to read about their program. Here is a quote from their site: Minneapolis requires that every rental dwelling, including single-family rental dwellings and rental units in owner-occupied duplexes, and rooming and shared-bath units (unless they are in a licensed lodging house) must have a rental license.” Bellingham must actively work to ensure the health and safety of those leasing single family homes. Welfare matters such as adequate plumbing, safe electrical circuitry, sufficient number of exits, control of vermin, fire suppression to include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and structural integrity must be addressed. Write to the mayor at and the city council at to let them know you are not satisfied with uncontrolled rooming house growth and the lack of inspection of these rental properties. Ask them the reason for which we license dogs (click here to read the code) but leave the health and safety of our citizens to a wing and a prayer.

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