Deadline Looms For Rental Registration, But Does It Matter?

Deadline Looms For Rental Registration, But Does It Matter?

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"We're looking more or less to find the smaller units that are out there that we don't have record of. That's what we're hoping this will do," said Watertown Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn McWayne.

Back in November, the last Watertown City Council voted to require landlords in the city to register their properties. The deadline to register is the end of the month.  So far 324 landlords have done so.

What happens if they don't? The law says any rental dwelling unit not registered, shall not be offered for rental and not complying can lead to legal action by the city.

"Legal action could be taken if they failed to register, but we would discuss that with council before action like that is ever taken," said McWayne.

And council members we talked to don't like the idea of going after landlords just because they didn't register.

"The way that it was passed and I voted against it, the law really doesn't have any teeth," said Mark Walczyk, city council member.

"Definitely don't think we're going to be out there hunting people down, I don't think that's the intention of this at all. I think really the goal is to build a database," said Cody Horbacz, city council member.

"I'm not in favor of punishing people for not participating," said Ryan Henry Wilkinson, city council member.

The city is having IT issues with the software that runs the rental registration program. For that reason, council member Lisa Ruggiero, who wasn't part of the council that voted for the law, says the city should extend the deadline to register.

"To try to penalize property owners if they don't register is going to be very cumbersome and it could be very expensive for the city," she said. "So at this point maybe we can extend it and encourage more people to register."

Henry-Wilkinson, Horbacz and Ruggiero both said they see the idea of having a list of rental properties in the city a good idea.

Landlords can register by going to the city's website.

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