Disorderly house ordinance moves to third reading

WASHINGTON — After being a landlord for 50 years, Don Bayliss, of Washington, has had a lot of experiences. At the city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 7, he approached the council to discuss the proposed ordinance that would address disorderly houses.

The first reading of the ordinance was passed at the Oct. 15, 2019 council meeting and has since received backlash from landlords concerned about how the ordinance would effect them. During the meeting on Tuesday, City Administrator Brent Hinson said the ordinance was prompted by a petition from locals who repeatedly complained about a disorderly home and felt not enough was being done.

Hinson said the nuisance board met and discovered there was “a shortfall in the code” in terms of a lack of policy in place to allow local law enforcement to handle situations where they were called out multiple times to the same address. He said the proposal was not to punish landlords but to give the city an extra tool to address similar issues in the future.

“The focus wasn’t on landlords. The focus was on the behavior that was going on. This doesn’t just apply to landlords, this applies to properties that were a problem and the repeated problem properties. The idea was we wanted to have something to give the police ... the appropriate tools to do their job,” he said.

According to section two of the ordinance, no one is allowed to “knowingly keep, maintain, operate or be concerned with keeping, maintaining or operating with the city a disorderly house.” Section four outlines if a disorderly property is identified a letter of notice will be send to both the tenant and the landlord.

City Attorney Kevin Olson explained that if things were to escalate to the point of eviction, the landlord would be given 30 days to begin the process. For landlords with current contracts already signed, he did not feel they could be amended to include this provision but advised it could be done for renewals or for new clients.

The council approved the second reading and will hear a third reading at the next council meeting on Tuesday, Jan 21 at 6 p.m. in the fire station.