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New legislation targets off campus student housing

Early in January, Baltimore County Councilman David Marks of District 5 proposed a bill that addressed the recurring issue of disruptive party houses. The bill was originally set to only affect areas around Towson University, but was amended to include the region around UMBC.

The bill not only punishes the tenants that are responsible for loud, disruptive parties but also landlords and property owners as a means of encouraging individual action before legal incidents can occur.

For the first violation, the tenant receives a citation for $500 and 20 hours of community service, and the landlord receives a warning. For the second, the tenant receives $1,000 citation and 32 hours of community service. The landlord then gets a citation of $500 dollars.

For the third and any other violations, tenants receive $1,000 citation and 48 hours community service. The landlord will receive a citation of the same amount and face possible suspension of the rental license for the offending property.

Originally, the bill’s target audience was off campus student renters in only a select few neighborhoods surrounding the Towson University area. Towson residents have had recurring issues with loud parties causing disturbances and the bill was set to provide a trial solution to the rampant problem.

Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk made an amendment on January 19 to include areas around UMBC in the trial such as South Rolling Road, Sulphur Spring Road, Leeds Avenue, Maiden Choice Lane and Wilkens Avenue.

Even though UMBC is not typically associated with loud parties, Quirk explains, “We are very fortunate that most are good neighbors but [the amendment] is just an added measure just in case.”

Freshman chemistry major Cynthia Azoroh, an occasional off-campus party goer stated, “I think that it’s unfair honestly because you know college students. They like to party. It’s just a known fact. It doesn’t matter if you’re at Harvard or some public university.”

However, Quirk explains that while the bill is new, it is already helping. He stated, “It just passed so it might take a while but already we see some positive effects.” He went on to say, “It’s an added tool for the police because we do have a few minor issues from time to time.”

The bill’s pilot program is set to last for two years and officially went into effect February 1.