News & Resources

Portland to put landlords on hook for disorderly tenants

Feb 21, 2011 Matt Roesly

Lawmakers in Portland, Maine, are working to make it easier for the city to fine landlords who house disorderly tenants. The city officials want to lower the requirements for labeling rowdy residences as disorderly houses, a designation that puts landlords on the line for fines and lawsuits, the Forecaster reports. Laws currently on the books do not deem a property a "disorderly house" until police have received eight calls or successfully filed three criminal prosecutions within 30 days. Brit Vitalius, the president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association, told the paper the city should alert landlords of problems before slapping a "disorderly" label on a property and slamming the owner with fines. "Let's find the best way to deal with it," Vitalius said. "Maybe it's an ordinance, but maybe it's something else." Securing references from previous landlords and conducting tenant screenings for criminal backgrounds are two ways landlords can make sure they rent to well-behaved clients. If a landlord is in a hurry to rent, signing a lease with the first person who applies can be a tempting - but potentially disastrous - choice, writes Steve Tytler for The Herald of Everett, Washington. As he points out, "rental properties are valuable investments and nobody cares about them as much as [you] do." Why risk property damage or city fines instead of simply doing some extra research?