License to Lease?

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With 50 percent of the property in Lansing rental properties, being a landlord here is a busy job.

So busy, in fact, that City Council wants to start screening landlords to make sure they're capable of the extensive upkeep needed to rent property.

"It's important we know who the landlords are here so we can make sure they're doing everything according to code," says councilwoman Sandy Allen.

Currently, only the properties themselves need to pass inspections. But city council says it's only fair for landlords to be licensed, too.

"If you were a restauranteur, you'd be getting inspections and liquor licenses," compares councilwoman Carol Wood.

Landlords are not on board.

They say the selection process behind who gets licensed and who doesn't has the potential to be arbitrary, and therefore discriminatory. And overall, they say such regulations aren't needed.

"The properties in Lansing in disrepair aren't all rentals," says Gary Calkins of the Landlords Association of mid-Michigan.

The landlords we spoke to say the requirements could be devastating to renters. One landlord says if licenses are required, hundreds of families who live in rentals could be displaced.

That's because if current landlords don't get licensed, they'd likely have to board up their properties, leaving many potentially looking for new housing.

But councilmembers assure any new regulation will only have residents' best interests in mind.

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