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Baltimore rental inspection law starts, roughly 200 inspectors registered

Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, shown at an earlier meeting, says the city needs to do a better job of providing comprehensive and easily accessible information showing which tax breaks have been granted to whom. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the new law stands to not only benefit affordable housing but all renters in the city. “Technically (it benefits) not just affordable housing, but all housing. We expect this to trickle up,” he said. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

More than 200 licensed home inspectors have so far registered with Baltimore’s housing department to perform assessments of rental properties required by a law that took effect Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 215 state licensed inspectors had registered with the Department of Housing and Community Development to perform newly required reviews of one and two family rental properties, according to  Tammy D. Hawley a spokeswoman for the department.

“It’s hard to say what the expectations (for the number of registered inspectors) would be … because this is a new process,” Hawley said.

That number is expected to grow, she said, as more state registered inspectors become aware of the change in city law. The city is targeting the state’s list of roughly 900 licensed home inspectors as a pool of professionals to handle the influx of new reviews mandated by the law.

Baltimore now requires one- or two-family rental units to be registered, assessed by a state qualified home inspector, and licensed by Jan 1. The new law was approved by the Baltimore City Council this spring and signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh in May.

Existing law requires a registration fee of $30-per-dwelling-unit for properties with one or two units. Buildings with at least three units are charged a registration fee of $35-per-dwelling unit with an additional $25 per “rooming unit.” But the new law makes sure the fees are paid which wasn’t the case previously.

If a property owner is convicted of violating the law — it is a misdemeanor — each offense is subject to a $500 penalty. License renewals, under the new law, are permitted for three-, two- and one year periods depending on how quickly violations are corrected.

For each property granted, a one-year renewal a $15 fee per unit or room is added to each one-year continuation. That additional fee is deposited with the Baltimore’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Councilman Bill Henry, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the new law stands to not only benefit affordable housing but all renters in the city.

“Technically (it benefits) not just affordable housing, but all housing. We expect this to trickle up,” Henry said.

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