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      Rental property registrations due

      The city of Fort Madison is giving rental property owners a deadline to to register -- March 31, 2014.

      The rental inspection program started in 2012 after the city council posed questions about resident safety.

      "We were interested in trying to improve quality of our rental housing and our community and also to improve the safety of those who rent." City Manager Byron Smith said.

      Sandy Stefans is a landlord and renter.She said she is happy the city decided to start a rental inspection program and that landlords should be held accountable.

      "It's a shame it took an act of law to do that," she said. "I think it was very much needed.

      Stefans has been in the business of finding homes for people for a long time.

      She has been a realtor for 26 years.

      Smith said the city decided to look at how other cities with similar programs conducted their inspections and found many options.

      For example, some cities offer rewards for those who comply with the program. Other programs inspect properties every couple of years.

      Stefans said her personal rental inspection program is common courtesy

      "I would never buy or rent anything out I wouldn't live in myself so that was kind of my approach almost from the beginning." she said.

      Fort Madison's program requires registrations every year, charges a fee and inspects the properties every three years.

      Smith said the city has had a good response from landlords about the program so far.

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