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In our opinion: Renters of Bremerton, unite!
As anyone who has shared a Bremerton apartment with a nest of cockroaches knows, low-income people, i.e. renters, have no reason to trust their landlords or the City Council.
It follows that Council President Nick Wofford’s plan to require business licenses — at $65 a pop — for each rental property, and additional inspections, is a bad idea that should never get to a full Council vote.
Increased oversight of rental properties isn’t in itself a bad idea. In fact, it’s long overdue. The city needs to ensure residents are not being taken advantage of, and that landlords are kept in check.
But the proposal, if approved, would likely mean higher rents, as landlords aren’t going to absorb costs they can pass to renters.
But, worse, under Wofford’s proposal, money generated from the additional business licenses doesn’t go toward enforcement to force slumlords to clean up their acts. It would just get funneled into the city’s bank account.
What is needed is a renters’ bill of rights with teeth. Bremerton has a huge market of renters, people who live month-to-month, week-to-week.
Wofford’s proposal would result in another tax on the poor.