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West Columbia looks at landlord controls

West Columbia is looking at increased oversight of upkeep of rental residences.

A plan to require landlord registration so officials know whom to contact when sites aren't kept up to standards was outlined to City Council Monday.

"The bottom line is to hold property owners accountable for conditions," Mayor Bobby Horton said.

About 3,500 apartments and other rental dwellings are in the city, officials estimate.

The plan taking shape would make landlords responsible for correcting problems cited by city officials at rental dwellings.

It also would require nonlocal landlords to hire an agent within 30 miles of West Columbia able to correct problems at rental residences.

Landlords would pay a registration fee that hasn't been established, but Horton suggested it will be $5.

The goal is to give City Hall "a few extra tools" to deal with problems, city attorney Sarah Spruill said.

If adopted, the plan adds West Columbia to a handful of Midlands communities that are cracking down on poor upkeep of rental homes.

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