Portland hires Housing Safety Administrator
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The City of Portland has hired a Housing Safety Administrator to oversee the new Housing Safety Office. It's a position created by the Fire/Code Inspections Task Force that was created after the fatal Noyes Street fire last fall.
The Housing Safety Administrator will join inspectors who will be trained in code enforcement and fire safety; on top of that, the city is requiring all landlords to register each unit they own as of January 1, 2016.
It's a requirement the city already had, but no one really enforced, said President of the Southern Maine Landlords Association, Brit Vitalius.
Vitalius said right now the city doesn't know how many units are in Portland, nor do they have the proper names or contact information for landlords who own them. Registration will ideally set up a better system of contacting building owners.
Landlords will be required to pay $35 per unit, with discounts available for buildings with sprinkler systems, centrally monitored fire alarms, or smoke-free policies.
Vitalius admits getting every landlord to register will be a struggle at first, but those who don't sign up will be fined $100/day.
"It's going to help the city, but it's also gonna remind landlords that you have to be safe in your buildings and there are codes," said Vitalius. "You need to sit down with your tenants and make sure smoke detectors are working and remind them to keep hallways clear and not to take smoke detectors off the wall."
The city has hired Art Howe as the Housing Safety Administrator. Howe comes with 37 years of experience as a fire chief in Massachusetts and Fire Safety Code Inspector in Connecticut.
The cost to register units every year will help pay his salary, and that of the added inspectors working to make sure Portland's housing is safe.