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Bellingham rental registration due Aug. 1

Rental property owners in Bellingham have until Aug. 1 to register their rental housing units, using forms like this one available at cob.org/rentals.
Rental property owners in Bellingham have until Aug. 1 to register their rental housing units, using forms like this one available at cob.org/rentals. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Rental property owners in the city have until Aug. 1 to register their rental housing units.

Reams of information are available on the city website cob.org/rentals, which is also where you can find the online registration link, or get the paper form to turn in via mail or in person.

As of Friday morning, July 10, rental owners had registered 2,136 units, and city staff expected there were still a few thousand more to go, said Emma Burnfield, rental registration specialist.

Registration costs between $8 and $10 per year, depending on how many units sit on a property: $10 per unit if there are one to 20 units, $8 per unit if there are 21 or more.

The city gives an example to clarify: “A rental property owner has three properties, each with 10 units. They will pay $10 per unit for each property, NOT $8 per unit despite having a total portfolio of 30 units.”

This first registration, due by the end of the month, will be good until December 2016. After that, they’ll be good for a year.

The most common question Burnfield said she has heard during the registration process is, “When will the owners get their certificates, and where do they need to be posted?”

“(The certificates) are probably going to be sent out in the next month, and they need to be posted in a visible location,” Burnfield said.

Because it’s a formal-looking document,that “doesn’t make great wall art,” Burnfield said that as long as the document is accessible, it should be OK.

“If that’s on the wall, on the back of a closet door, inside a cabinet, wherever works best,” Burnfield said. “As long as it’s not under a rug or something.”

After Aug. 1, the city will follow up with owners who haven’t yet registered by mail. After a few efforts to contact that person, it could go to code enforcement and fines if owners still haven’t registered, Burnfield said.

The city also hopes to soon create a searchable online database of properties that have registered, so tenants and community members can help ensure that their rental is registered as required by the new city code.

“But we’ve been having a really good response so far,” Burnfield said.

Starting in 2016, every rental property will need to inspected once every three years under the rule. The city has not yet finalized the inspection process.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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