In November, apartment owners alarmed about crimes occurring in and around their properties asked Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening for help. Last week, Glendening unveiled a $6 million anticrime package aimed in part at addressing their concerns.

Today, with the landlords' support, the Prince George's County Council is scheduled to begin considering legislation that would nearly quadruple the apartment licensing fee, with the additional money going to combat crime.

The landlords are backing the boost in the biennial fee, from $13 to $50 per unit, to help the county crack down on drug-related crimes, including homicides, that have plagued apartment areas, particularly in inner Beltway communities.

The increase is intended to raise $1.6 million a year in revenue for Glendening's recently announced "war on drugs." Council Vice Chairman Anthony Cicoria is the bill's sponsor.

Forty-four percent of the county's 665,000 residents live in 88,500 apartment units, the largest percentage among the suburban counties, according to Caroline Lewis, vice president for legislative matters of the Apartment and Office Building Association of Greater Washington.

"We polled the majority of members who owned the largest number of units in the county and asked how they would feel about the {license fee} increase," Lewis said. "Only one small owner had some qualms. A lot were not aware of the magnitude of the drug problem in the county. By virtue of how many apartment properties are laid out or were built, {the apartments} are very conducive to drug dealing.

"Apparently, a lot of drug dealers from New York and elsewhere are coming into the county, and we would like to cooperate and work with the county," she said. "We've all been concerned with the image of the county and making it a better place for residents to live and for us to do business."

The anticrime program announced by Glendening on Thursday includes the hiring of 100 police officers. Glendening said apartment owners are "losing more revenues" from units they cannot rent because of drug-related crime "than they will with the new licensing fee."

The night after Glendening announced the program, five persons were killed in the Village of the Woods apartments near Landover Mall. Police said the slayings were drug-related.

At Village of the Woods, owner Mort Yadin said he and partner Arnold Berlin have hired off-duty county police officers and sheriff's deputies for the last six months to provide additional evening patrols.

"We've always tried to maintain it as a good community, and been pretty selective with tenants," Yadin said. He said the victims did not hold leases in his apartment complex. "I have no idea why they were there," he said.

Yadin said he has owned the apartments for 19 years, but that the crime problems are relatively recent. "Prince George's County was more rural then. It was all woods around here and there was no shopping center."

Despite the five slayings, Yadin said yesterday was "a regular day, like nothing happened. People are coming and renting apartments."