Nearly 60 percent of houses in the city of Watertown are rental properties.

Freshman Councilman Steve Jennings says a lot of those rental properties are the many houses that are rundown on the outside and possibly unsafe on the inside.

Fellow Councilman Joe Butler says a landlord registration program would be his first step at getting in properties and ordering them to be cleaned up

"We don't have a mechanism to go in there and address the most egregious offenders," Butler said

Landlords would be required to register with the city and possibly pay a fee for registering. Jennings says good landlords would be left alone, but if a tenant complains about unsafe living conditions, the city would know who to go after.

"I think you need to level the playing field in the city," Jennings said. "It is the beginning step to improving the neighborhoods."

"There are a lot of places that are below the minimum standard when it comes to safety," Butler said.

What is the incentive for landlords to register? Jennings talked about a fine for not registering.

It won't be until the fall Jennings and a committee present the plan to city council.

The two other council members say they are open-minded, but haven't decided if they like the idea of a rental registry. Mayor Jeff Graham echoed that sentiment, but said the devil will be in the details.