Wants mandatory rental inspections


"The Whatcom County Health Department has recognized 42 local eateries for excellence in safe food handling with its 2013 Silver Platter Awards. The award is given to dining establishments that achieve outstanding scores during routine food safety inspections throughout the year. Less than 5 percent of food establishments inspected in 2013 met the criteria for the award" according to The Bellingham Herald, May 10, 2014.

Would you eat in restaurants where inspection was done only after a complaint had been filed? That is how safety is handled in rentals. Rental homes should be inspected -- just like restaurants.

The Centers for Disease Control defines rental safety as a public health issue. The CDC studied rental safety across the United States and concluded that tenant complaint systems do not work, because tenants do not complain. Tenants are not willing to report problems to their landlord, and they not willing to file a complaint with the city. They are afraid of retribution.

Half of the homes in Bellingham are rentals. City Council is considering a program, proposed by Mayor Kelli, to register residential rentals -- a great idea. The proposal should include safety inspection of rentals. Discard inpections triggered by a tenant complaint. That system has been dicredited by the CDC. We need proactive inspection of rental homes -- just like restaurants.

David Hopkinson


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