SANFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Apartment buildings and vacant homes in Sanford will soon face tougher scrutiny in an effort to prevent more devastating fires from breaking out in the community.

A new ordinance was passed to deal with the issue, just before a five-alarm fire swept through several buildings last month. Eight people lost their homes.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Two of the buildings that were destroyed had a history of code violations. Residents who live near where the fire happened say the stepped-up enforcement is long overdue.

Paul McDonald lives near the vacant triple-decker apartment building at 33 Island Avenue. The fire broke out in the building and then spread to other buildings. The blaze damaged other neighboring structures including this home on Thompson Street, which is being rebuilt.

He believes adding two more full-time code-enforcement officers and requiring landlords to register rental properties will help keep tenants safe. Landlords will be required to pay a fee to register each unit and no dwelling can be rented out without first being registered with the city.

"We are really putting more teeth to it we are putting more staff to it we are very short staffed," Sanford Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy. "Sanford has one of the smallest staff for code enforcement."

"Especially in a neighborhood like this homes are so close together if they are not being taken care of it one goes," Paul McDonald said.

The ordinance will go into effect in January.