Bowing to public sentiment, Rockville lawmakers voted unanimously to kill legislation that would have required that a city inspector certify as fit for occupancy all houses put on the market for sale.
The proposal drew considerable opposition from real estate interests and civic groups at a public hearing late last month.
The legislation was aimed at keeping housing with deficiencies such as unsafe heating systems, water heaters or leaky roofs from being sold.
Under the proposed law, a city inspector would not pass unsafe conditions and would require the seller to make repairs before the property could be sold, or to make the defects the responsibility of the buyer in a written agreement. The proposed inspection fee was $35, according to Paul Radauskas, head of the city licensing division.
At this week's City Council meeting, Mayor William E. Hanna Jr. said he was voting against the measure in deference to "overwhelming" public sentiment against it. But, he added, "This is also a charge to homeowners to provide the kind of reputable business deals that will relieve my telephone of the kinds of calls I've received over the years."
Hanna said many unhappy property buyers, complaining of gross deficiencies in their new houses, have approached him seeking city help. He said the city has no jurisdiction over private real estate sales.
Radauskas said the law "would have been a benefit to the community," by protecting the city's housing from disrepair.
Councilman Steve Abrams said he was "persuaded there was no jurisdiction for the legislation," adding, "I am satisfied the real estate industry is providing ample notice to home buyers of the avenues available to protect themselves."
In other business, the council unanimously approved a city operating budget of $18.8 million, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, that maintains the current property tax rate of 95 cents per $100 assessed value.
The approved budget increases trash collection fees by 16 percent, the sewer rate by 21 percent and the water rate by 4.6 percent. A typical Rockville homeowner will pay an additional $43.64 for city services.
Other items in the new city budget:
A $100,000 contingency fund for emergency financial assistance to city residents, affected by reductions in federal assistance programs.
$40,289 for two additional police officers, to work primarily on the investigation of crimes against property.
$25,000 for a landscape design for Rockville Pike.