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More landlords on board with crime-free housing law

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Harrison Heights Apartments is among the more than 360 rental properties in compliance with Sunnyside's crime-free rental housing ordinance.

It's been approximately 15 months since the crime-free rental housing ordinance in Sunnyside was approved by the Sunnyside City Council.

Since then, the Sunnyside Police Department has been on a campaign to get landlords on board, in compliance with the law.

That effort has been paying off.

Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck said the addition of the crime analyst at the end of July at his department has made a large difference.

"With the crime analyst we went through water bills and found duplicates, indicating a property is a rental," said Schenck.

He said the crime analyst, Courtney Percival, was able to compile a list of the landlords not yet in compliance.

"Mobile home parks and large apartment complexes for the most part have complied with the crime-free rental housing program," Schenck said.

Percival said even more properties are now in compliance with the ordinance.

More than 500 properties in the city of Sunnyside have been identified as rentals. She said more than 365 of those properties are now in compliance.

Percival said 139 were licensed when she was hired.

That means nearly double the properties are licensed with the crime-free rental housing program in the span of about a month-and-a-half, since she's started work here.

Schenck said, "That leaves a chunk of addresses unlicensed. So, when we have criminal activity at a property believed to be a rental, we identify the criminal behavior and the landlord can expect enforcement action."

He said the police department has given landlords ample opportunity to license properties as crime-free rental housing on a voluntary basis.

"We have advertised, sent out notices in water bills and had news stories," said Schenck.

"If none of that has grabbed their attention, there is nothing more to do but take enforcement action."

Percival said the recent results of more landlords complying with the new law are directly correlated with additional notices sent to landlords after she was hired.

Schenck said Percival provided him with a list of large property owners whom he contacted personally.

"The crime-free rental property ordinance is crucial in our efforts to eliminate gangs from our community," he said.

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