Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bellingham Creates Web Page on Landlord/Tenant Resources

Shortly after the City Council voted on June 20th not to continue down this year's path toward licensing and inspecting rentals, the City of Bellingham added a page to its website that outlines resources for landlords and tenants. You can peruse this web page by clicking here. Warning: Dependence on this site may be hazardous to your health and welfare!

The page provides links to various statutes that cover landlord/tenant relationships and directs tenants to some organizations that assist tenants who may be in conflict with their landlord over issues such as rental unit condition, withholding of security deposits and other legal problems.

Unfortunately, the site is passive. You have to look for it. If you have no computer, you are out of luck. Furthermore, the site does not, nor can it ever provide to the tenant an assurance regarding the safety and health conditions of a rental. Under current circumstances, the tenant is on his or her own.

Therein lies the problem that I have discussed many times on this blog. The tenant is in no position to judge the condition of a rental - nor, for that matter, are most landlords. It is not stupidity. It is ignorance. Regrettably, no amount of information on a web page can provide tenants the wherewithal to ensure that the unit he or she is about to rent is safe and presents no health hazards. For that assurance one needs the eye of a trained and state approved housing inspector or code enforcement officer.

The solution for Bellingham is rental housing health and safety inspections; the key to a decent, habitable and secure rental stock.

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