The Montgomery County Counil this week passed an amendment to its rent control law that would permit landlords of 12 or fewer apartments to forego filing monthly reports to the county on their rental prices.
The landlords still would be required to comply with the rent control law, passed in March, that prohibits annual increases of more than 10 percent in half of the county's apartments.
The Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs (OLTA) will enforce the law in cases of landlords with 12 or fewer units, when tenants complain of infractions.
"A whole lot of paper work was required, and it was a problem for owners of small units that are often (in) mom-and-pop situations," Council Member Elizabeth Scull said in an interview. "It also took OLTA a lot of time to review it all."
The council deleted a provision in the law that asked landlords to hold rent increases to 7.6 percent voluntarily. Increases above 10 percent will continue to be strictly forbidden, unless granted by the landlord-tenant office under extraordinary circumstances, such as when needed to compensate for soaring fuel costs.
In addition, the council voted to change a provision in the March law that, for example, permitted landlords to charge 20 percent more for half the apartments owned, if rents on the other half were not raised. Now, the 10 percent ceiling will be applied to every apartment, and will not be the average ceiling on all of a landlord's units.
In other action, the council voted 6-to-0 to required owners and managers of stores, apartment houses and industrial property to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of their property within 24 hours after snow stops falling.
The action was an attempt to clarify a law passed last year that required snow to be shoveled off sidewalks, but did not set a deadline.
Owners and managers who fail to comply could be fined $50. Each offense will be a misdemeanor, rather than a civil offense, according to county attorney S. Perry Jones, because the county does not have a system for prosecuting civil offenses.
The council also voted to confirm County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist's appointment of Ramona Kaye Zielinski of Midland, Mich., as director of the county Department of Health Systems Planning.
Zielinski, a nurse with a Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, was director of the East Central Michigan Comprehensive Health Planning Council from 1973 to 1976. She has been a private consultant on health care ever since.
Zielinski, 38, will earn a salary of $45,500, a figure that some council members said they felt was high.
"I'm deeply troubled by the salary," said Council Member Scull, who abstained in the 5-to-0 vote. "There's no need to match the salary of the former director, which reflects his many years of experience."
But Gilchrist defended the salary on the grounds that "her job is as important as any we have in the county. It's a difficult job, and at the moment it has special difficulties. We feel that Miss Zielinski's experience exceeds that that (the previous director) Dr. (Hameed) Naz had."