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Efforts underway to hold Grandview renters accountable

GRANDVIEW - Not all tenants are bad apples, but the ones who are often leave properties in a condition that is uninhabitable and need to be held accountable.

That's why Cory Taylor, code enforcement officer for the city of Grandview, is hoping the city council will approve a renters registration program he is developing with the assistance of Grandview Police Department's Lupe Martin.

"Right now it's all in the works," said Taylor, stating he has examined Pasco's rental inspection program, as well as Sunnyside's crime-free housing program.

To implement a similar program Grandview would need additional staffing and funding, Taylor said.

Seeing some Grandview properties left in a state of disarray when tenants moved out, he believed something needed to be done.

"There's one family I know of that has left the condition of three properties in a state of disrepair in the past year. I had to condemn each of those properties," said Taylor.

"A lot of it has to do with a lack of respect for the property, neighbors or anything...in 2009 I looked at a program like Pasco's, but the funds for another code enforcement officer weren't available," he said.

Pasco's program involves inspecting rental properties to ensure they are safe dwellings.

Sunnyside's crime-free housing program requires landlords to obtain training and tenants are subjected to background checks.

Taylor said Grandview's approach would, if approved by city council, require landlords and tenants to fill out a form that provides the city with the tenant's name, the landlord's information and emergency contact information.

The information would be entered into a database and Taylor believes it would be useful for tracking tenants who are irresponsible, as well as helping emergency personnel in the event of a fire or other emergency.

"We're in the real early stages and there will be changes. However, I'm focusing on the renters registration program to keep documentation and to track those that have caused damage or vandalized property as tenants," said Taylor.

He said the Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18) outlines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants. The law is what Taylor aims to use for holding people accountable when a property is neglected or misused.

"I want to fine the tenant. For example, for junk cars I would like to hold the tenant accountable instead of the landlords...often landlords don't live in the area and haven' any idea the tenants are violating nuisance ordinances and/or the international property maintenance code," Taylor said.

"I want to know who the tenants and property owners are."

Taylor said he doesn't believe his proposed renters registration program will be a "fix-all," but his goal is to have some tool available to him to help him when a property is showing signs of violating the city's ordinances and building codes.

"I hope the program can be a tool for police to use for identifying residences where gang members live...tenants over the age of 12 would be registered and the police could use the information to identify where a tagger lives," he said.

"Right now it's all in the works and depends on approval from council. I don't know yet when it would be implemented, but I'd hope we could kick off the new year (2013) with it in place," said Taylor.

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