Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bellingham Rental Licensing - A Lesson From Lexington, Kentucky?

As the City Council receives a briefing on rental housing licensing from Mark Gardner, its Legislative Policy Analyst, at the 7 December 09 City Council meeting, it may wish to take into account information from the City of Lexington, KY. which is confronted with many of the same issues on rental housing. You can read the article on the City of Lexington website in its entirety by clicking here, however, I will provide my readers with some salient quotes from the article. [These findings confirm the importance of the questions in my blog entry of 4 June 2008 entitled We Do Not Know, But Do We Want To Know?. Click here to read that entry.] From the City of Lexington:

“Recent inspections of housing in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Kentucky by city fire inspectors revealed an alarming number of life safety fire code violations, Mayor Jim Newberry said today.”

“Inspections revealed five times the incidence of serious life safety issues as are normally found in comparable inspections of apartments or businesses. Serious life safety issues included no smoke detectors or inoperable smoke detectors in bedrooms, people sleeping in attics with no outside exit and hasp locks on the outside of bedroom doors.”

“…50 percent of the properties inspected had serious violations.”

Lamentably, we do not know a lot about our rental housing stock. Given it comprises more than 50% of single family rentals in Bellingham, we are very likely running a great risk with the lives and safety of renters. The news from Lexington is disconcerting, to say the least, and demonstrates that the possibilities are high that uninspected rental housing is also dangerous in Bellingham.

I have urged the City Council members to consider this health and safety issue as they decide the manner in which it proceeds with the issue of rental housing licensing. I urge you, my readers, to write to the City Council at ,with a copy to Mayor Pike at More importantly, you can speak to the council directly for 3 minutes during the public comment period at the start of the City Council meeting on 7 December and tell them that you support landlord licensing.

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