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Archive for Sunday, July 31, 1994

LANDLORDS NOT SOLE COMPLAINT TARGETS

July 31, 1994

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Should landlords get involved in tenants' neighborly clashes?

Some rental housing disputes go beyond traditional landlord-tenant disagreements.

Take the case of Scott Black and Ellen Stouppe, renters who live in disharmony on Harper Street in Lawrence.

Black, who resides at 1514 Harper, said he trembled in fear when Stouppe waved a gun at him and threatened to shoot. Fear turned to anger when Stouppe sprayed Black's wife, Tammy, with tear gas. Gas also hit one of their three children.

"The babies are too scared to sleep at night," Mr. Black said, sitting in the kitchen while outlining his version of the domestic discord, which is rife with calls to the police.

Stouppe, 1518 Harper, declined to comment.

However, landlords of both tenants waded into the conflict and had plenty to say.

Cindy Reynolds, the Blacks' landlord, demanded Stouppe's landlord, Pete Petry, evict Stouppe unless she changed her behavior.

"As a landlord, he has a responsibility to do something," she said. "He's willing to allow his tenant to disturb the peace of others simply because he's getting a rent check."

Petry acknowledged the Mace incident occurred, but didn't know the validity of other allegations. He disagreed with Reynolds' contention he had a legal or moral obligation to force Stouppe to leave.

"If some Philadelphia lawyer wants to come explain to me how I can throw her out and not get sued, then we'll have a different story," he said.

The Kansas Residential Landlord-Tenant Act stipulates that a landlord may break a lease without any reason by giving the tenant written notice at least 30 days before the effective termination date.

This clash among landlords and tenants reached gridlock.

Petry doesn't want to do anything. He said Stouppe wants to remain in the rental property.

Reynolds demands Petry do something. Mr. Black also plans to stay in his house, although he worries about his family.

"We basically made this our home," he said. "I don't feel like we should be run out because no one will do anything about her."

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