Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The War Has Just Begun

Quality Rental in Bellingham (photo: Dick Conoboy)
 [Note: This entry was first published on 16 Sep on NWCitizen.]

 [Note:  September 28, 2016 - the percentage figure of failures was initially reported at 42%.  In fact, the correct failure rate was 50% (227 of 458 inspections.]

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
— Winston Churchill

Bellingham's war on slum housing has just begun and in the first round of rental inspections since June 1 in the Sehome neighborhood the enemy has been rousted. Out of the dark corners, hidden from the public eye emerges the truth about Bellingham's dirty little secret: Slum landlords are alive and thriving.

Although landlords have had about two years to fix up their units since the rental inspection ordinance was passed, a shocking 50% [corrected]of the units (according to the city's preliminary figures below) failed their initial inspection.  Even the ones that passed had some "conditions" at the initial visit.  This demonstrates  the arrogance of landlords who, knowing that inspections were coming, did nothing.  After years of ignoring basic health and safety standards they, as business owners, are now being held accountable to business standards for the very first time!

Here is the preliminary breakdown for the Sehome neighborhood where inspections officially wrap up at the end of September.

Between 6/1/16 and 9/13/16 a total of 267 properties (or approximately 458 [corrected] units) have been inspected:
• 231 units passed or passed w/ conditions at initial inspection
• 227 units failed at initial inspection
• 78 units were marked as missed appointments at initial inspection (these are scheduled again as "initial inspection" and would show back up in the passed or failed categories)
• 115 units passed or passed w/ conditions at 1st re-inspection
• 7 units failed at 1st re-inspection
• 19 units were marked as missed appointments at 1st re-inspection  (these are scheduled again as "1st re-inspection" and would show back up in the passed or failed categories)
• 2 units passed or passed w/ conditions at 2nd re-inspection

Advocates for the new rental inspection program challenged the city and the rental industry to prove us wrong. Local anti-inspection landlords said their industry was better here. They promoted that myth during a long 15-year battle against implementation of inspections and registration. Unfortunately, the claims of those supporting rental inspections for the last decade or more were born out in this first round of code enforcement.  Fortunately the Bellingham City Council finally, albeit for some members very reluctantly, bit the bullet two years ago and created an ordinance to inspect rental units and ensure the health and safety of half of the city's residents, tenants.

The war on slum housing has just begun. The faulty wiring, bad plumbing, infestation of rats, leaky roofs, mold and unsafe structures are finally being exposed. Bellingham's liberation from its dirty little secret has just begun.

It will be interesting to see how the "rental industry" leadership responds to this, if at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As long as dubious and self focused council minorities allow special money ridden real estate interests to pull their strings to rule the city , so shall loopholes like the disgusting rental rule that allows the rich and privileged to hire private inspectors to side step the landlord and agency rules, continue.
Why else would they be paying the "Private premium except to minimize the rules for themselves?

Bellingham's council has for 15 years kept good legislation at bay to satisfy their puppet masters, its about time council bias strongly favoring the real estate clique is watered down and their decisions made are more for citizen voters than their buddy buddy dark real estate and rental agency partners (whose urges would let them tear down the statue of liberty for a few stone blocks for their personal homes)

Current new lady council people seem not to be aware of the years of manipulation practiced heretofore by the real estate interests under the umbrella of ineffective councils. It might be worth your time to look up Bellingham councils' dismal records of the last twenty years in the matters of control of real estate pressures and note the slums encouraged by council enforcement laxity