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Springfield Votes To Repeal Mandatory Inspection & Registry For Rental Units

Voters in Springfield went to the polls yesterday and repealed a rental registry ordinance adopted by the Springfield select board. The ordinance would have required landlords to register all rental properties and pass a fire and safety inspection every five years.

A group led by local landlords objected to the mandatory inspections and petitioned to have the ordinance recalled. They said the inspections would force even conscientious landlords to make costly repairs -- costs that would be passed on to tenants.

Opponents called the ordinance unnecessary. They said state law already authorizes the Vermont Division of Fire Safety to inspect rental properties.

Springfield Selectboard chairman Kristi Morris voted for the ordinance. He says the inspections only happen when property changes hands or the owner applies for a building permit.

“There’s rental units that the land lords may be from out of town, or just looking at receiving an income and do not keep their buildings up to the standards of some of the other buildings around town. And those are the ones we’re kind of targeting as far as making sure that all our rental units met the same safety codes,” says Morris

Voters opted to repeal the ordinance, three hundred seventy six to three hundred thirty nine.

Morris says some landlords favor creating a rental registry to help firefighters locate tenants and provide other useful information in a fire. He doesn’t think mandatory inspections will be bought up again any time soon.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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