Local Government

Landlords to Woodstock: "We want to shut this thing down and we want to shut it down now."

Proposed Landlord Registration plan flops at first meeting

WOODSTOCK – “How do we stop this thing?” was the basic sentiment among landlords after a heated meeting Wednesday night at Woodstock City Hall.

The city of Woodstock has proposed a Landlord Registration Program that could require residential landlords to register their rental units with the city. City officials said this will allow them to more easily contact property owners when things go awry and create safer living environments. The city has proposed charging a registration fee and conducting inspections every few years on the rental properties as well. Inspections could cover interiors and exteriors and include looking at things such as screens, gutters and windows, according to a sample checklist presented at the meeting.

City Council members had tried to bring the registration program to Woodstock tied to a potential crime-free housing program that allows police and landlords to work to lessen chronic nuisance in rental properties. Officials said the Landlord Registration Program is the necessary first step.

Landlords said the program would be invasive, biased, inconvenient, unnecessary and a “money grab.” Many pointed out that the city already had their contact information from water bills.

“What you are doing is penalizing us for the rats,” said Tim Art, a Woodstock landlord. “You should have the wherewithal. … Go pound on their door and straighten this stuff out. It’s not us that are causing the trouble.”

Landlord Gary Lechner said that the city already has the tools to complete what they say they are trying to complete.

“Everything is already on the books if you want to enforce it,” Lechner said. “That’s all they have to do. Everything you are talking about. We don’t need it again. … We want to shut this thing down, and we want to shut it down now.”

Jim Prindiville was the only City Council member at the meeting Wednesday. Prindiville also is a residential landlord in Woodstock.

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