In the November 24th issue of the Cascadia Weekly (Click here to read that issue.), there appeared a letter from Van and Barbara Hudson that contained a "warning" about a pending action of the City Council with regard to rental housing licensing. For the most part, the letter contained inaccurate and misleading information. Here is the letter:
“LANDLORD LICENSING LAMBASTED
Do you own rental property in Bellingham? Are you aware there are a few people pushing the City Council to pass a rental licensing ordinance that includes mandatory inspections? This has been discussed in the past, but now the council has put it on the agenda for Dec. 7 and it could possibly be voted into law that evening. It would mean a yearly fee for a license and inspections of all rental properties. This license will then be used as leverage against a property owner in a variety of ways that will affect both landlords and renters. For example, the cost of the licensing and inspections will raise rents, and renters’ privacy will be affected by inspections. Plus, property owners could be held responsible for tenants’ behavior and have their license revoked. Bellingham does not have a rental property problem. There are laws already in existence to address every issue. But if you don’t contact your City Council person right now and find out what is going on, there could be a new layer of bureaucracy we will all have to deal with.
—Van and Barbara Hudson, Bellingham”
Here are the facts. The City Council is to receive a briefing on a study on rental housing licensing on December 7th. I had previously confirmed this on November 23rd with Mark Gardner, the Legislative Policy Analyst of the City Council. Although the Hudsons claimed that a licensing law could be voted into law on December 7th, nothing could be further from the truth. The decision by the Council on December 7th will pertain to direction to staff. The Council may decide to proceed with formulating a licensing code or may take other actions as it sees fit.
Since there is no draft law to be presented that evening, it is disingenuous for the Hudsons to claim that there is a proposed law that will do this or that. There are many options open to the Council based on the study prepared by Mr. Gardner. “Tea party” tactics with regard to license fees, inspections and other options for a rental licensing law is not a healthy or productive form of debate. Reasonable minds may differ on the subject of rental housing licensing but let us adhere to the facts. You can read more on the subject of inaccurate and specious information on the part of the landlords on my blog entry of 24 November (click here).
The Hudsons suggest that you “contact your City Council person right now and find out what is going on”. I second the motion that the Hudsons do just that - and get it right.