Rental-property owners in Salt Lake City soon may find it profitable to be "good landlords."

Officials are crafting an ordinance that will reward landlords for partnering with the city to improve the quality of life in Salt Lake neighborhoods.

The ordinance is expected to incorporate elements of the Utah Apartment Association's good landlord program, which offers financial incentives for those who voluntarily participate.

UAA executive director Paul Smith met Tuesday evening with members of the Salt Lake City Council to explain the good landlord program and tout its successes.

Ogden, West Valley, Clearfield and other Utah cities that have implemented the program have seen crime decrease as much as 30 percent in some neighborhoods, Smith said. The quality of tenants in rental units, meanwhile, has increased, he said.

"We're advocates for quality rental housing," he said.

Nearly 49 percent of housing in Salt Lake City is occupied by renters, he said, totaling about 37,000 units.

How those properties are maintained and who ends up living in them have a huge impact on the quality of life, said City Councilman Eric Jergensen.

City leaders receive complaints "almost daily" about landlords who are not maintaining properties or have allowed "bad neighbors" to move in, Jergensen said.

"It's a real problem," he said. "It can truly destroy a neighborhood."

The good landlord program calls for all rental-property owners to be licensed with the city. The cost to obtain a license then becomes the foundation for an incentive program to encourage good behavior, Smith said.

Those who participate in the program would receive a significant discount in licensing fees. In Ogden, for example, a license for a single-family home costs $13 for landlords in the program and $156 for those who aren't.

By taking part in the program, landlords commit to:

• Run background checks on all renters and refuse to rent to people with certain criminal records.

• Start eviction proceedings immediately for tenants who commit a crime or become a nuisance.

• Maintain properties in compliance with city codes and ordinances.

• Take a landlord training course.

Jergensen said he hopes to have a landlord ordinance drafted and ready for council discussion and public comment in October.

"The goal of the program and the overall ordinance is to improve the availability of quality housing in the city," he said.

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