Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rental Home Fire- Possible Bad Wiring - Smoke Detector without Battery

Although this rental house fire took place in Blaine (read the story here) , the message to Bellingham should be clear. The city should create and pass into law a rental licensing and inspection program for the health and safety of the renters in our more than 17,000 rental units. Consider this:

1985 - A rental house on Laurel St. exploded and burned to the ground due to a gas leak. The WWU students renting the place had thought they smelled gas months before but ignored it. Luckily they moved out prior to the incident.

1995 - Six people lost their lives in a Meridian St. rental home that was equipped with smoke detectors that contained no batteries.

2009 - A fire caused by poor wiring destroyed a rental home on Tremont Ave. in the Guide Meridian/Cordata area.

In this latest instance the renter was saved by her dog. We cannot all have dogs, nor can dogs warn renters about mold, bad plumbing, lead paint, deteriorating structure issues or insufficient exits. Yet the landlords say we do not need an inspection program. That there are only a few “bad” eggs. That the city seeks to “punish” the good landlords. The truth is that even the good landlords are not experts in judging the condition of their homes.

Meanwhile in Olympia, your State Senators Brandland and Ranker just voted FOR an unnecessary law that will limit inspections to rental units. This bill, a cousin to one that was not passed last year in a fit of common sense, was initiated and promoted by landlords and their friends in the “rental industry”, as they like to call themselves. This year, Senators Hobbs, Berkey, Marr and Schoesler succeeded in reintroducing a limiting bill which passed the Senate on February 15th, 2010. It is now being considered in the House. (Click here to read the bill) From the latest Bill Analysis: “A local municipality may only require a certificate of inspection on a rental property once every three years. Rental properties are exempt from inspection if, within the last four years, they have received a certificate of occupancy and had no reported code violations. Rental properties that have been inspected by a government agency or other qualified inspector within the previous 24 months may provide proof of that inspection, which the local municipality may accept in lieu of a certificate of inspection.”

These inspection restrictions are entirely arbitrary and impose on all cities in Washington State unjustified restrictions which work only to the advantage of the landlord. I urge you to write to your representative while there is still time to stop this bill in the House. Click on each name to send an email.

40th District

42nd District


Amsterdam Apartments said...


Very informative blog And thanks for sharing useful information to all. I have enjoyed reading and I will keep visiting....

Zonemaven said...

Hope you have better laws in Amsterdam on rental inspections than we do here in Bellingham. :-)