On Oct. 18, the Waterville City Council held its weekly meeting to discuss matters of importance to the city. One point of contention was the proposed rental registration ordinance.
This ordinance requires more comprehensive documentation of the housing in Waterville. This includes the contact information of landlords, the number of dwelling units, the year of construction, and the completion of a safety checklist for each property. The registration would not require a fee from the landlords.
Rebecca Green, the head of the council, spoke about the ordinance during the Oct. 18th meeting, “The bottom line is there are no new requirements in this rental registration. It’s simply a way of knowing who’s renting a property in the city and how to get ahold of them,”.
In this same meeting, Dan Bernier, a representative of the Central Maine Apartment Owners Association, voiced his opposition.
“I would be concerned about what we are achieving versus what are the unintended consequences. Are we going to be driving investment dollars over the dotted line to Winslow, Fairfield, Oakland, Augusta, Skowhegan if Waterville moves ahead with a registration?” he said.
Bernier expressed concern that an enforced registration will drive landlords away from Waterville, citing the movement of some Portland landlords to the Waterville area due to increased regulations.
He continued to express his concerns that forcing landlords to register will make it harder to maintain local landlords and that they will be driven elsewhere.
“We [have] to be careful about driving money out of the city. Local landlords can also buy properties in Winslow and Fairfield rather than Waterville if they so choose, and we don’t want to see that,” Bernier said.
Bernier also claims that the tax records that property owners are required to fill out should be sufficient and that an additional registry is unnecessary. “The city already has a very detailed list of property owners. It’s called the tax records. It’s probably the most detailed list in existence.”
Despite Bernier’s opposition, he does agree that a list of the phone numbers of each landlord would be helpful for emergencies, but a “large regulatory regime” isn’t the way to go about it.
Green addressed Bernier’s concern about over-regulating landlords. “The code enforcement officer [is] not interested in issuing penalties. He’s interested in, you know, ensuring safe conditions. So, this is what we’re trying to do.”
Before the meeting, Bernier gave the council a letter that detailed over twenty-five legal concerns he has with the ordinance to be considered.
As landlords and the city council go head to head on this matter, both sides are working towards creating a better Waterville. Mayor Jay Coehlo said, “We are not adversaries. We want the same goal.”
~ Vivian Nguyen `25