Archive for Friday, February 10, 2006

Landlord fines

February 10, 2006


To the editor:

The Feb. 5 article about Ms. Hearn and her rental properties raises some very interesting questions. Ms. Hearn collected $2,800 in fines she levied against the tenants of one of her rental houses. The fines according to the article were due because the police were called to the house for parties.

The parties according to the article were held and a fee collected at the party. The fee was for the cup. The cup of course is used for the alcohol at the party.

Why is it that Ms. Hearn wants Kansas University to do something, yet she allowed the parties to continue for a year at the house in question and the police were called 14 times? She did say she collected $200 per party.

Better yet, how much has the city fined Ms. Hearn for having the police at the house in question? Is it standard operating costs for the city to send the police 14 times to one property?

And the city commissioners wonder why families do not want to live in Lawrence? And the taxpayers in Lawrence wonder why their taxes are high? Hint: 14 police calls to one house?

Sounds like Ms. Hearn has what might be called the New Age Cash Flow program for rentals. When is the next seminar? Will the Lawrence city commissioners be present? They might just figure out how to improve the cash flow to the city!


Ragingbear 12 years ago

I also know that unless such fines are listed in the lease, that they are not only illegal, but big time illegal. Tens of thousands of dollars illegal.

Another thing people may not know is that if you sign a lease that has illegal items on it, then you can not be legally held to those particular obligations. Of course, during the meantime you got evicted.

mefirst 12 years ago

KU is not responsible for fixing this problem.

Lisia 12 years ago

As an employee of Ms. Hearn's, I think perhaps the article gave some wrong impressions of that particular problem house, or rather, left the way open for some flawed interpretations of the situation.

First, it is listed in the lease that if there is a party and the police are called, the tenants can be fined. Before adding this clause to the lease, we consulted lawyers to make sure it did not violate city ordinances or the Kansas Residential Landlord Tenant Act. It is in the lease to dissuade tenants from having such parties and becoming problem houses. In no way is it, or has it ever been, the policy for the tenants to pay the fine in order for the landlord to overlook the parties going on. And the point that Ms. Hearn was trying to make is that the fines- and even threat of eviction- do not work to dissuade tenants from having loud parties in all cases.

Second, the tenants never outright paid the fine, and most definitely not each time there was an occurence.

Third are some things that the article does not mention. It does not mention the hours of work spent cleaning and picking up trash at the property, and surrounding properties, after the tenants refused to do so after their parties. It does not mention the hours spent writing letters to the tenants' parents and calling the parents to ask them to please encourage the tenants to settle down and behave responsibly. It does not mention the lawyers' fees for the legal letters we had written and sent to both tenants and parents explaining the terms of the lease, the Kansas Residential Landlord Tenant Act, City ordinances, and threatening eviction if the behavior did not stop. And it did not mention the angry and sometimes threatening responses we received to these pleas.

What would I personally like to see KU do? I would like them to offer some sort of off-campus orientation to at least give students guidelines for living responsibly in the community.

I would like to see KU hold its students accountable for their behavior. Many colleges and universities have an "honor code", code of ethics, or behavior code they expect their students to adhere to, both on and off campus, and there are consequences at the university when the code is violated. It does not make the university have to step into the role of "parent". There are JOBS that expect a certain code of conduct of the people they employ, even outside the workplace.

And as a Lawrence resident, I would like to see the police actually hand out tickets with a serious fine attached for noise violations and underage drinking, rather than just breaking the party up with no consequence to the residents other than their party being shut down.

Maybe then there would not have to be a party fine written into the lease. And, as Ms. Istas states, it would "improve the cash flow to the city" or at least pay for the police time and effort for shutting down the party.

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