Although this rental house fire took place in Blaine (read the story here) , the message to Bellingham should be clear. The city should create and pass into law a rental licensing and inspection program for the health and safety of the renters in our more than 17,000 rental units. Consider this:
1985 - A rental house on Laurel St. exploded and burned to the ground due to a gas leak. The WWU students renting the place had thought they smelled gas months before but ignored it. Luckily they moved out prior to the incident.
1995 - Six people lost their lives in a Meridian St. rental home that was equipped with smoke detectors that contained no batteries.
2009 - A fire caused by poor wiring destroyed a rental home on Tremont Ave. in the Guide Meridian/Cordata area.
In this latest instance the renter was saved by her dog. We cannot all have dogs, nor can dogs warn renters about mold, bad plumbing, lead paint, deteriorating structure issues or insufficient exits. Yet the landlords say we do not need an inspection program. That there are only a few “bad” eggs. That the city seeks to “punish” the good landlords. The truth is that even the good landlords are not experts in judging the condition of their homes.
These inspection restrictions are entirely arbitrary and impose on all cities in Washington State unjustified restrictions which work only to the advantage of the landlord. I urge you to write to your representative while there is still time to stop this bill in the House. Click on each name to send an email.