Several landlords and one tenant spoke against the proposed new rental property ordinance during Monday's Havre de Grace City Council hearing.
Some landlords wondered why the law is necessary and urged council members to talk more with them and explain what they are trying to achieve.
Gunther Hirsch, former city mayor and the namesake of the city hall building, said the original landlord bill did nothing except create a lot of bureaucracy.
He said any bill like this is "punitive" for the landlord and noted the economy is already making business difficult.
"It is very hard to be a landlord in any case," he said.
Hirsch said many condominiums in the city will soon be rentals, adding even more landlords.
"I ask you not to erect new walls," he said. "Don't erect any new walls in Havre de Grace to make it [harder] for landlords to operate."
Other members of Hirsch's family, which has many rental properties in the city, also spoke.
Gary Getz, of Bourbon Street, said he is not sure of the purpose of the ordinance.
"If one of the purposes is to increase the quality of the apartments and increase better level of tenant, I think the market is basically going to take care of that for us and we won't need bureaucracy to do that," Getz said.
Getz said many BRAC-related employees have been moving from Fort Monmouth and they have been good renters.
"It's real. There are more people moving in every day. I know in my family's apartments, there are new immigrants to the area from New Jersey," he said. "The level of income from the average person at [Aberdeen Proving Ground] is significantly higher than it used to be and as defense contractors move to the area, that's going to continue."
Getz said the only construction that has any traction in Havre de Grace is apartment buildings.
"Apartments in Havre de Grace are in demand, and the landlords are going to respond on their own to fight for the new tenants that are coming in," he said. "I think that really the supply and demand, and good old capitalism will really take care of this one issue, and if we just leave well enough alone and don't add more bureaucracy and fees, we'll be better off."
Mediate disputes, landlord says
Mary Lynn Snyder, of Bourbon Street, another city landlord, said she thinks the city's three code enforcement officers can handle the problems the ordinance tries to address.
"When you have the rental process that's really where a lot of your problem is, is who they rent to," Snyder said. "[The code enforcement officers are] ample to sit down and work with the ones that are not doing their job."
Snyder said the ordinance would force landlords to pass on its fees to their tenants, many of whom are already living on limited incomes.
She said she wished the council members had brought up their problems to landlords earlier.
"I certainly wish they had come to some of us and sat down and said, 'We need help. We're not getting what we want out of this commission,'" she said. "None of us have had any chance to have any input except this tonight. Shame on you."