The Bremerton City Council has unanimously approved a new Rental Property Registration Program. The newly approved ordinance requires landlords to register all of their residential rental dwelling units within the city.
The drafting of the new ordinance was spearheaded by council member Eric Younger and City Attorney Roger Lubovich.
“I do believe that the tools are now in place and it is up to us whether or not this proves to be an effective program or not,” Younger said prior to the council’s vote. “It is going to depend on how well we execute it.”
Younger called on the mayor, the department of community development and the police and fire departments “to be the eyes and ears to use the tools” that the new ordinance provides.
Kurt Wiest, the executive director of the Bremerton Housing Authority, spoke in favor of the new ordinance. He noted that his agency, in partnership with private property owners, assist over 1,000 rental properties with subsidies and the authority also owns 500 units of its own
“I support the efforts to improve the quality of rental property within the city of Bremerton,” Wiest said. “I think this ordinance is a significant step towards that end.”
Wiest was especially pleased by one part of the new ordinance, a landlord notification program to alert property owners any time there is police, fire or unauthorized activity at a residence.
Lubovich noted that those renting residential property in Bremerton are already required to obtain a general business license. Now, they will be required to register each property, provide a local and emergency contact, register for the notification program and file a declaration of compliance with the state’s Landlord Tenant Act.
Those that are suspected of violating state laws will be issued a correction notice. If no action is taken, a violation notice is issued. At that point, a hearings examiner would determine whether or not a certificate of inspection is required. Those found in violation at that point could be subject to a $1,000 fine followed by penalties of $100 per day thereafter. The same penalties could be levied against those that fail to register in the first place.
Beyond those potential penalties, the only cost of the new program to landlords is the already required business license.
Council member Faye Flemister spoke in favor of the new ordinance.
“To have this ordinance, it just makes … it messes with my heart that we have families that are in substandard houses and unsafe houses,” she said. “I think all citizens deserve to be in a safe place that is very well kept and I hope that this ordinance … will address some of those things because we do need to make sure our citizens have the best that they can possibly have.”
Council member Leslie Daugs also spoke in favor of the rental registration program.
“This is one of those times that I really enjoy being on city council,” she said prior to the vote. “The goal for this was to provide adequate housing for all citizens in Bremerton and eliminate poor housing for people. So, this is one of those feel-good things that I’m really proud to support.”
No one spoke against the ordinance at the city council meeting last week.