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Wausau alderman proposes landlord licensing

by
Keene Winters
Keene Winters
Keene Winters discusses prop... (Download MP3)

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - A Wausau alderman wants the city to license landlords and handle property inspections differently in the future.

Keene Winters would like to see the licensing take place to make sure rentals don’t continue to go unmaintained, like many in the downtown area. He says it’s time for the city to get more involved for the benefit of landlords, tenants, and the community. “The housing stock that surrounds the downtown has gotten into a dilapidated condition, and it’s really forming a home for all sorts of problems that we have in the city. High unemployment, drugs and crime, and we need to address that area in a comprehensive way.”

Winters says the city inspects rental properties, but not on a regular basis. “Right now, the inspections program really is on a complaint basis only. Look, if the whole neighborhood is bad rentals, who complains?”

Under a city inspection system, Winters says rental properties would be inspected at least every two years. He believes this is actually an opportunity for landlords. “I think good landlords should look at this as an opportunity, because they’re of course in price competition with landlords who do not invest and do not keep their properties up. If you could impose a system for twenty dollars a unit, you would level the playing field, so if you’re a good landlord, you know the other guy has to be good, too.”

The concept Winters is proposing would also have public documentation of the building conditions, which can be useful for both landlords and tenants when there is a dispute about security deposits.

Winter’s proposal will be discussed by the City of Wausau’s Finance Committee in October, and could end up as part of the city budget in early November. If approved, it could become reality in 2014.

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