A Baltimore County bill aimed at cracking down on rowdy parties in Towson is being adjusted to address the concerns of landlords.
The bill from Baltimore County Councilman David Marks would create a pilot program that would allow for civil citations against tenants who host "unruly social gatherings" as well as their landlords. The two-year test would be carried out in six neighborhoods near Towson University: Aigburth Manor, Burkleigh Square, Knollwood-Donnybrook, Overbrook, Towson Manor Village and Wiltondale.
Under a proposed amendment, landlords who appeal their citations can offer a defense that they have notified their tenant of the problem and are working to evict them.
Marks said more tweaks to the bill could be possible before a vote on Jan. 19.
Thomas Tompsett, director of government affairs for the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, which represents landlords, initially opposed the bill but said his group is now in support.
During a County Council work session in Towson on Tuesday, Tompsett said rowdy parties with excessive drinking are "deplorable."
"It's not the way you properly run a property," he said.
Tompsett said that giving landlords the chance to show they are being responsible in dealing with problem tenants — especially given that Maryland has a lengthy eviction process — is a welcome change to the bill.
For a first offense, tenants or party hosts would be fined $500 and 20 hours of community service. Fines and community service increase for subsequent violations.
Landlords would receive a written warning on a first offense, with fines starting at $500 for a second offense. Ultimately, a landlord could have their rental license revoked.
Council members also heard from supporters, including Towson residents, Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger and representatives from Baltimore City, which passed a similar law last June.
Leslie Wietscher, a community liaison for Baltimore Councilman Bill Henry, said about 30 citations have been issued in college student-heavy neighborhoods in the city. More importantly than the number of citations, though, she said young renters are quickly learning that poor behavior can have consequences.
"The word is out," she said.
The Baltimore County Council meets at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Historic Courthouse, 400 Washington Ave. in Towson.