Felons need not apply.

That's the message being sent across the state by some landlords and police departments who are jumping on board so-called "Good Landlord" programs aimed at reducing crime in rental properties.

The programs, which can be found in cities across the Wasatch Front, allow landlords to attend training on how to spot drugs, make their properties safer and weed out troubled tenants. In exchange, they get deep discounts on business licensing fees and in some cases, increased patrols and free police reports on crimes within their complexes.

Property managers say the program has led to a dramatic reduction in crime and tenants feel safer in their apartments.

"They absolutely love it," said Candice Taurone, community manager for Goldstone Place Apartments in Clearfield, "the ones that don't have criminal records. It gives them a sense of community and knowing that we are doing our job and Clearfield City has got our back."

Ogden marked one year of its Good Landlord program recently by announcing a drop in crime in apartment communities that participated. Since implementing the program a year ago, Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey said a 12 percent decline in property and violent crimes has been documented.

To encourage participation, the city will waive 90 percent of its business licensing fees to landlords and apartment managers if they attend an eight-hour class put on by police and the Utah Apartment Association.

"At first, landlords said they hated the idea, but it ended up being a good thing," Godfrey said. When the program was first introduced, the mayor said, landlords flooded Ogden City Council meetings to complain about government intrusion.

"They ended up learning a lot that they didn't know," he said.

The programs between the cities are similar. Landlords agree to take steps to reduce crime in their apartment complexes by installing deadbolts, peepholes on doors, increased security lighting, numbers on doors and background checks on prospective tenants for criminal convictions. Convicted felons can be automatically rejected.

"You can discriminate against a criminal," said Clearfield Police detective Denise Colson. "They're not a protected class."

Colson calls Clearfield's Crime Free Multi-Housing program "extremely successful," noting an average 150-call drop in police calls to apartments over everything from noise complaints to violent crimes. She said out of the 65 apartment complexes in Clearfield, 35 are members of the program.

"The benefit they're seeing is they're getting better renters who are paying their rent on time," Colson said. "They're keeping them longer, they're taking care of the property better."

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com