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Proposed Harford bill would hold rental property owners accountable

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

4:42 PM EDT, April 3, 2014

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Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow the county to inspect rental properties and require more accountability from property owners.

The legislation would let the county inspect rental properties and require property owners to file contact information for the owner, a description of the rental property and a designated owner agent for receiving information from the county.

If an inspection found a property to be unsafe or unlawful, owners or tenants would have 45 days to bring a property into compliance.

The county would be required to give owners and tenants written notice of the inspection plan, including information on a public hearing for the plan. Hearings would be held at least 30 days after the notice is mailed.

Property owners would have the right to a hearing before the Director of Administration. Requests for hearings must be sent within 15 days of the report's receipt to the county.

The bill states rental properties could be in a geographic area designated by the Director of Administration, but Guthrie said he intends the legislation to apply to any rental property in the county.

Guthrie, who represents the Edgewood and Joppa areas, has long railed against problems caused by absentee landlords in his district.

Guthrie said after Tuesday's council meeting that the bill would be a step in the right direction, although it is still milder than what he ultimately hopes to achieve.

He said he hopes to eventually target non-rental properties as well.

Pritt Lane closure, public works hearings

The council passed a resolution Tuesday to close a portion of Pritt Lane, a small cul-de-sac off Water Tower Way in the Hickory area.

The road would be closed from the existing tee turn-around to a location about 175 feet west, prior to the first driveway west of Route 1, according to the resolution.

The Pritt Lane entrance onto Route 1 was closed by the State Highway Administration when the Route 1 Bypass and Route 23 were built, public works director Tim Whittie said in an e-mail.

After a public hearing on Nov. 14, 2013, a Road Closing Committee determined the road should be closed.

The developer shall prepare a plat and release of the road easement of the closed portion, as well as install a tee turn-around at the end of the county-maintained portion, before the road section is closed.

No one testified at two council hearings that night, on bills that would let New Cingular Wireless lease space for three new antennas on the Vale Road water tank and would turn Bel Air's private Landis Circle road into a public road.