Bremerton City Council spars over two rental property proposals

The Bremerton City Council postponed a measure Wednesday to impose inspection requirements on rental property owners, while deciding to move forward with a proposal to require rental owners to obtain a business license for each property.

At next week's meeting, the council will vote on a measure that would require landlords to pay for a $65 annual business license for each property they own, a rule that already applies to all other businesses in the city. Currently, rental owners only need one license to rent out property.

The measure was proposed by Council President Nick Wofford, who said that the requirement would allow the city to track landlords and put them on a level playing field with other business owners. Originally, he wanted the money earned from the licenses to go toward parks and sidewalks, but then decided to funnel those dollars to the city's general fund - an item that drew criticism from a handful of council members.

"The cynic will say that your proposal will be a revenue generator for the general fund," said Councilman Roy Runyon, who said the use of the money collected must be more "palatable" to either rental owners or tenants.

Councilman Greg Wheeler said the extra costs imposed on owners would be inherited by tenants.

A companion measure introduced by Wofford would require rental owners to pay for state-certified inspections at their properties once every three years - a measure he hoped would alleviate blighted conditions in rental properties.

The council decided to scrap the bill as written due to concerns about administrative costs, owner expenses and liability conflicts when tenants are moved out of substandard housing.

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