The good people of Oak Ridge, Tenn., are considering changing that:
"The ordinance, which would require residential landlords to have an operating license, could make rental properties subject to inspection. The biennial license could cost property owners $25 each, regardless of the number of rental units they operate."
The bad thing here is that a landlord who rents out one room is charged the same fee as one that rents out a building of 30 units, but the implication seems to be that the smaller operators cause more of the problems.
"Under the ordinance, municipal workers would have the right to inspect rental properties for a variety of reasons -- including when a code violation is suspected, the landlord license is renewed, or an inspection is requested by the owner, agent or tenant."
Landlords may get a bad rap, but as a landlord myself, I don't think it'd be unreasonable for some kind of certification and inspection program for rental properties. Another option might be some kind of voluntary association, although that might look like collusion to some local authorities.