Archive for Monday, July 10, 2006

Code breach breaks lease

Renter upset by automatic renewal calls city inspectors

July 10, 2006

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Andrea Sumpter knew she should have read her lease more carefully. That's her fault, she admits.

But, she said, there's no way her apartment should have been in this condition.

"It's a mistake I'll never make again," the Kansas University student said.

The mistake, Sumpter claims, was overlooking the automatic renewal clause in her lease with property owner Del Hedgepath, who owns two other rental properties in Lawrence.

The clauses included in many Lawrence leases automatically bind tenants to another year in a house or apartment unless they give landlords written notice that they want to leave.

In June, when Sumpter realized that she would be forced to live in the upstairs apartment of the home for another year, she suddenly began to take notice of her surroundings.

She listed a number of problems, which concerned her.

She called housing hot lines and asked for advice, she said. Everyone told her to report the property to the city.

When city inspectors from the Neighborhood Resources division arrived at the property Friday, they found a slew of problems, inspector Brian Jimenez said. Among them:

¢ No smoke detectors anywhere in the building.

¢ The deck was shoddily constructed and was the only exit for the top floor apartment.

¢ Windows in the basement apartment of the house were too small and didn't exist at all in some bedrooms, making escaping a fire nearly impossible.

¢ Potential electrical problems because of the breakers.

¢ Water infiltration that led to strong mold and mildew smells in the house.

The problems in the top- and bottom-floor apartments were so severe that that city condemned them, forcing Sumpter and the basement's residents out of the building by today.

Jimenez said that there were code violations in the middle apartment as well, but nothing that required the residents to be vacated.

"We're going to make sure that before he rents to anyone else it will have to be up to code," Jimenez said. "If he doesn't want to make the repairs, we can always pursue prosecution through municipal court."

Hedgepath said in a phone interview Saturday that he purchased the home 10 years ago with the porch already constructed.

"I had no way of knowing that it wasn't up to code," he said.

As for the basement, he said he knew the windows were small but believed that the house had been grandfathered in when city codes changed in 1997.

Regardless, he said, he plans to bring the house up to code immediately.

As for the automatic renewal clause in his lease, Hedgepath insisted that his leases are straightforward and easy to read, spanning only two pages.

It's not his job to remind his tenants to give notice if they are moving out, he said.

"The lease is clear. I don't get on the phone and call people," he said. "If I happen to talk to them, I tell them: Make sure to get that written notice to me."

But the city may never have known about the problems if not for Sumpter's anger over her automatic lease.

This legislative session, Kansas University's student government lobbied for changes to the Landlord and Tenant act, including addressing automatic renewals.

Their attempt failed.

Skylar Hurst, who lives in the apartment below Sumpter, said she and her roommate knew about the lease agreement because she didn't want to remain in the home longer than her current lease requires.

"We paid attention," she said.

But Sumpter didn't, and now she regrets it. She'll make do, she said, commuting from her parent's home in Lenexa until she finds a new place.

Her only hope now was that others could learn from her mistake.

"Read your lease," she said. "Know what you're getting into."

- Staff writer Mike Belt contributed to this story.

Comments

geekin_topekan 8 years, 12 months ago

I failed to address parking when I signed a lease once.On football saterdays,if I wasn't at home and stayed there my landlord would sell my parking spot. Couldn't Andrea sue for a breach in contract now?Since she leased it for another year?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

If your slumlord is not paying attention to housing conditions you now know what to do.

Mike Curtis 8 years, 12 months ago

You forgot to insert 'greedy'. We all know that people who own rental property are greedy! Probably Republican as well.

grubesteak 8 years, 12 months ago

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NorthLawrenceDude 8 years, 12 months ago

What about the tenants responsibility here? I lease a house right now that has an auto renew clause. I read my lease, and I knew it was in there when I signed. If I ever decide to move, I will give the PROPER notice according to the lease I signed. It is pure and simple.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

It is curious that residential rental properties are not subject to the same rules as commercial properties when they change ownership or leases. If this were the case Lawrence would have fewer slums/demolition by neglect situations and tenants would possibly have lower heating and cooling bills.

noodle 8 years, 12 months ago

I pretty sure the larger landlords in Lawrence do not have auto renewal clauses. I agree with NLD - read your lease and you will not have these problems.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

Perhaps there should be a clause in all lease agreements directed at the property owner that states the property being leased meets city code in every respect. If property is found in violation of city codes tenant has grounds to null and void the lease. Both tenant and property owner/manager sign at point of lease renewal.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

"I screwed up, now I will screw you over" should be the quote from Sumpter. She also caused her downstairs neighbors to be homeless.

I do not condone deplorable and unsafe conditions by any means. But I'm sure all the problems were obvious when Sumpter agreed to rent the place. You get what you pay for.

While the city is busy imposing on only some tenants and property owners in town (who get to pay licensing fees for the priviledge), others have carte blanche to pack their hovels with groups of people and to profit from their dangerous slums.

ALL landlords should be subject to city inspection, regulation and fees. But I guess that is not what Compton, et. al., had in mind when they pushed this agenda.

ModerateOne 8 years, 12 months ago

It would solve all of the problems if landlords weren't greedy. Landlords should just buy residential properties, pay taxes and insurance and mortgage interest, and let people live there for free.

Oh and lets make sure the landlords pay to fix any damage caused by the tenants.

This idea would solve the homelessness problem too.

Sigmund 8 years, 12 months ago

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Hawkman 8 years, 12 months ago

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monkeyspunk 8 years, 12 months ago

moneyhawk:

She didn't screw over the landlord. The landlord screwed themselves by not monitoring their rental property for code violations.

You could say she renderred here basement neighbors homeless, but you could also say she may have saved their lives in the event of a fire.

This "You get what you pay for" attitude is absurd. That attitude is exactly why there are slums in this town. The city of Lawrence should aggresively enforce housing codes. If they did, then there would be far fewer extremely nasty rental properties in town.

In the end, "you pay for" codes mandated by local government to followed in the dwelling you rent.

And as for those telling the tenant in this article "read your lease." I say to you: Read the article. She understands that she screwed up. But does that mean she should live in a place that isn't up to code to the point that it is a death trap in the event of a fire?!!?

bmwjhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

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Baille 8 years, 12 months ago

"I pretty sure the larger landlords in Lawrence do not have auto renewal clauses. I agree with NLD - read your lease and you will not have these problems."

Reading the lease won't get rid of the mold. It won't wake you if there is a fire in the midddle of the night. It won't make the windows bigger so that one can exit the home safely. It won't keep the deck from falling to the ground. And it won't make sure the landlord discharges his/her duties as required by the contract and by law.

I rented in Lawrence for almost 10 years before buying my first home. I had some great landlords and I had some scumbags - especially among a couple of management companies. I learned that lesson early.

The tenant needs to read the lease, but the landlords need to be responsible as well. Tenants: document everything and take lots of pictures. Send letters to your landlord by certified mail or restricted delievery. And call the city with your complaints if the landlord proves to be unresponsive. But by the same token, take care of the place, pay on time, and abide by the conditions set forth in your rental agreement.

NorthLawrenceDude 8 years, 12 months ago

  1. Sumpter should have read her lease before she signed it.

smallone 8 years, 12 months ago

I know the people who rent the basement apartment. they were in the same place, he was trying to make them sign a new lease but they didnt even have one in the first place just a month to month.

they were moving out anyways. the basement was gross. it flooded many times. feces backed up into the shower. the power never worked when you wanted it. bad bad apartment.

but they were guys who didnt have much money and it was cheep and worked, for a while.

she should have given written concent. not called the council but it was very bad apartment and its good that they are out of there before a fire happened. which in retrospect could have happened so easily everything was exposed, pipes, vents, and there were heated piped in a storage room.

RonBurgandy 8 years, 12 months ago

Regardless of her motivations for calling the inspectors in, to sit her and downcast the tenant is absurd.

The tenant has a right to rent a property that is safe and up to city codes that are there for a reason. The place is condemned now, in that aspect, the landlord has failed to keep up his property.

I would love to hear what people like offtotheright would say if they rented a property that burnt down and they lost possessions or friends. "Oh, I guess I should have called the landlord about those code violations, this must be my fault."

jafs 8 years, 12 months ago

I agree that the tenant should have been more careful, and also that landlords and the city should be held to a higher standard. One thing no one has mentioned yet is that there is no way to force a landlord to fix their property. Also, the process is somewhat involved and takes several months.

Sigmund 8 years, 12 months ago

If tenants would stop renting these places then these landlords would either fix their properties or go out of business. What is so difficult to understand here? If the place is a fire trap, here is an idea, don't rent it! If the place doesn't have a big enough fridge, don't rent it! If the place has no smoke detectors, hey don't rent it! If you don't like the terms on the lease, don't sign it!

As to the affordability issue, nice clean safe places are going to cost more than less nice, less safe, less clean places. It is as true here in Lawrence as it is all around the world. Perhaps you can get your PLC Kommissioners to revoke the operation of basic economics here in Larryville.

costello 8 years, 12 months ago

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temperance 8 years, 12 months ago

Offtotheright said: "She rented the apartment for a year, didn't give a notice that she wanted to move out. She then called the city to have them condemn the place so that she could get out of her lease."

That sounds fair to me. Why are you so upset about this? You're taking it a little too personally.

"Oh, the poor slumlord now has to follow the city code! Property owners have to follow rules! The horror!"

If the building were up to code, this tactic wouldn't be available to her. It's the landlord's fault, plain and simple

RonBurgandy 8 years, 12 months ago

macon - so why should we even have building codes? If we should just decide for our own the safety of the property, then there shouldn't be any standard that owners should have to follow. It should be up to our own discretion and anything that should happen as a result of our living there is our own fault. Is that what you are saying?

whitetower 8 years, 12 months ago

Posted by offtotheright (anonymous) on July 10, 2006 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal) Those renters in the basement were stoned 24 hours a day! Posted by offtotheright (anonymous) on July 10, 2006 at 9:45 a.m. (Suggest removal) 3. I am sure Sumpter would be happy to sue anyone and make a big tub of money... Posted by offtotheright (anonymous) on July 10, 2006 at 9:42 a.m. (Suggest removal) I see nothing where this woman called the landlord and told him 'seems this deck isn't safe, do you think you could have someone look at it'? This is HER scam! She never notified the landlord that she was unhappy, or had concerns about a deck, or anything else! She went about this the wrong way. She only called the City inspector to break her lease, nothing more!


Are you the landlord in question? These accusations could only be made by him with anything remotely resembling truth if indeed any of these are true.

Confrontation 8 years, 12 months ago

I had an apartment that was owned by a slumlord, and eventually condemned by Brian Jimenez and the city. We moved out and were told that no one would be allowed to live in it until all the problems were fixed. A new tenant was in there almost immediately after we left. That's how the city follows through with their slumlords. I bet Slumlord Hedgepath will have new tenants in there before any work is ever done. Most likely, not work will be done.

CheyenneWay 8 years, 12 months ago

Thanks LJWorld for reminding me to write that darn letter!

Dear Landlord,

Im off like a prom dress!

Sincerely, Your Paycheck.

grubesteak 8 years, 12 months ago

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Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 12 months ago

they are both wrong in this and noow they are both screwed.

hipper_than_hip 8 years, 12 months ago

The city requires landlords to have a license, and the license fees are supposed to pay for inspections. Did the landlord have the licence, did the property get inspected, and what were the results of the inspection?

I find it hard to believe a landlord would choose not have smoke detectors in place (after all real estate is an investment), and I find it hard to believe that a tenant would live somewhere without a smoke detector (after all her life is at stake).

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

Monkeyhawk has made an excellent point.

The only rentals that are required to meet specific safety codes, and that are subject to licensing, and that are inspected by the city, are single family homes. A

City code does not require that these old houses that have been converted into 2, 3, 4 or 5 rental units be inspected. It is absurd.

Make it fair, commissioners. Level the playing ground. Require ALL rentals to be licensed, and inspect them all, not just the single family houses.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

Godot and Monkeyhawk should send their comments to our city commissioners. Two of them own rental properties and in general all 5 need to hear this. Neighborhoods and tenants suffer when rental property becomes slum property.

Baille 8 years, 12 months ago

"4. Sumpter should have read her lease before she signed it."

The landlord violated the contract first by not providing a unit that met city code. Or even better, the contract was never enforceable - after all one can't contract to provide something that is illegal. Such contracts are unenforceable, no? Freedom to contract curtailed somewhat by teh community interest in seeing unsafe habitations made safe.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 12 months ago

This is awful! My house is inspected every two years, right down to the batteries in the smoke detectors, and there are always upgrades to make, they are always quite reasonable. My landlord, 3M Mgmt., always has a period of time to make them and get re-inspected, and they do the stuff, partly because it's the law and partly because they don't want to kill their tenants.

This girl is by no means screwing over her landlord. She should have called the city sooner, and if her apartment had been up to code, she would have had to deal with the lease. Just like the tenant's responsiblity to give notice, the landlord is bound by the lease to provide the minimum standards required by the city. If the landlord does not provide you with a safe property with basic codes met, the contract is broken by the landlord.

It is that simple. Both sides have to do their part in a contract.

Property Mgmt. Services is the worst, and I think they have that clause in all their leases. How much work is it to send a xeroxed reminder out, or to be kind enough to show/list the apartment for a tenant who makes the mistake? If she had found a new renter before August, I wouldn't see the need for a sublease for an entire year.

Any responsible tenants looking for a good landlord should call mine -- they play by the rules, and have also given me my best renting experience in any of the dozen or so places I have rented in Lawrence.

Just as tenants are questioned about their rental history, don't be afraid to ask your potential landlords for tenant references, or to ask tenants what they think of them. It is so worth it to be nosey and do your homework ahead of time! When August comes, there's nothing quite like not having to move out!

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

emily,

Who is your landlord? Just curious.

Sigmund 8 years, 12 months ago

I thought a Landlord had a right to remedy any breach, and if corrected the Tenant was still obligated to pay rent through the term of the agreement. Guess the Kommissioners banned the Kansas Residential Landlord Tenant Act while we weren't looking.

KSA 58-2559. Material noncompliance by landlord; notice; termination of rental agreement; limitations; remedies; security deposit.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this act, if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with K.S.A. 58-2553 materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a periodic rent-paying date not less than thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice. The rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice, subject to the following:

  (1)   If the breach is remediable by repairs or the payment of damages or otherwise, and the landlord adequately initiates a good faith effort to remedy the breach within fourteen (14) days after receipt of the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate.

Any one who thinks they can get out of an automatic renewal of a lease by playing the same game may be in for a suprise when the Landlord remedies the problem.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

With 2/3 of the place not meeting city code perhaps the city should red tag the whole damn place until it meets city code. That might get the landlords attention.

Klickhammer 8 years, 12 months ago

Defending the landlord in this situation is like defending a car dealer who sold you a lemon. The tenet has a legal right to notify the city about the code violations; furthermore, she ought to be able to expect that the landlord make his property code-compliant.

On the issue of reporting the code violations to the landlord or the city, I can see some advantages to reporting it to the city: it establishes an official record, it ensures that the changes are made, and it ensures that the changes are made correctly. Furthermore, it takes the burden off of the tenet and places it on the landlord and the city. This action doesn't seem to be retaliation on the part of the tenet simply because, in good faith, the house would have been brought up to code in either scenario. Unless, of course, you assume the landlord wouldn't have voluntarily made the changes without the city's intervention, in which case the tenet would have had to call the city anyway. Also, the tenet punished herself in the process when her apartment was condemned. She may have been angry about the renewal clause, and frustrated with herself for not reading her lease, but protecting herself from code violations is hardly revenge.

I believe it is important that citizens serve as watchdogs, for their own protection and for the community at large. The landlord was clearly unaware of the code, skirting by on false assumptions where he was aware of a violation, and not abiding by his legal duty to reasonably protect the lives and wellbeing by complying with the law of his tenets, to whom he is providing a service.

thisiknow 8 years, 12 months ago

My daughter rented a studio apartment once and when she first moved in she was well aware that the carpet was dirty and in her lease it stated that it should be cleaned upon the tenant moving. She had her landlord (company) write in that the carpet was not cleaned. Before she moved in they did clean it. She lived there a year and when she moved she cleaned the carpet and when they inspected it they wanted to see her receipt for carpet cleaning--she said she had rented a cleaner to clean and showed the rental rec't. The landlord (company) said she would have to pay for cleaning the carpet because she did not have it professionally cleaned!!!!!!!!!. I say you rent a professional cleaner should be good enough. Anyway end of story she had to pay for the cleaning of the carpet and the handyman cleaned it with their machine--Professional?? The landlords rip of renters all the time to get that extra buck. My daughter learned her lesson but it goes on allllll the time.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 12 months ago

Hey students and other rental property supporters aka tenants. Join together,form a city tenants association,become well known and meet once a month to discuss living conditions. When problems are documented have the association notify verbally and in writing Neighborhood Resources and the City Commissioners(in writing) as a back up for the tenant. The association can then follow up. If necessary become an agenda item for the City Commission meeting.

Consider attending neighborhood association meetings as well so they to know of a questionable situation. All is in the best interest of the community.

Students and other tenants bring a lot of important money to the community.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

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hockmano 8 years, 12 months ago

She should have went to the landlord first and then notified the city if the landlord didn't comply. BUT the landlords should notify all new tenants of the renewal clause even though it is stated in the lease! They should have a special clause that they initial when they sign the lease acknowledging the renewal condition. There are some good landlords out there, but alot just want their money without having to dish out any money for maintenance. Sounds like this young lady's landlord is a slumlord.

NorthLawrenceDude 8 years, 12 months ago

I drove by this house, and it looks very nice from the outside. It is well kept, and attractive. It looks better than the one I am paying $900 a month rent for in the Northland. I am betting that Mr. Hedge (the landlord) thought it WAS up to code, just as he stated in the article.

feeble 8 years, 12 months ago

Back in my KU days, had several friends rent from Del. He used to own this big house across from the Jayhawker. Place was a reck in side, what with pipes rusting through, water damage, mold, and what not.

The man has no business being a landlord. This was a long time coming (doesn't excuse the tenant in this story, but Hedgepath is the worst kind of Lawrence landlord.)

That said, half of the Oread neighborhood is a code-violating fire trap.

mom_of_three 8 years, 12 months ago

Yes, she should have read her lease. But it seems sneaky and underhanded that the landlord doesn't make mention of the auto renewal causes. How long does it take to say.."and if you read page 2, paragraph 3, if you don't give me notice within such and such date, you will be auto renewed."

LogicMan 8 years, 12 months ago

If any carpenters, electricians, etc. are looking for work, sounds like your next job is waiting for you. He'll want to get it ready fast to relet for the fall semester.

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

"Yes, she should have read her lease. But it seems sneaky and underhanded that the landlord doesn't make mention of the auto renewal causes. How long does it take to say.."and if you read page 2, paragraph 3, if you don't give me notice within such and such date, you will be auto renewed."

I don't agree. If he did that for one tenant, and not for another, or if he did it one year, and then for some reason did not do it the next, then he would have a problem.

The signed lease is the document that gives the tenant all the information she needs about how to renew, or not renew.

It is not the landlord's obligation to remind her to be an adult. I can even see how that would backfire. Suppose the landlord sent a two week reminder, heck, even a two month reminder, to the effect of "if you do not want to renew your lease, you must let me know by such and such a date." She could say he was harrassing her; she could say, "it appears you don't want me around any more...."

There is a reason people have leases.

neveragain 8 years, 12 months ago

i live in the middle apartment and can tell you first hand that Del is the worst kind of landlord possible. It is not that we are ignorant or irresponsible students by any means. It is strictly the point that Del is not an attentive house owner and to put it bluntly, a jerk to his tenants.

First of all, it would have been difficult, not to mention a waste of time, to notify Del first, seeing how he has never returned one of my phone calls...EVER! Not to mention, the majority of tenants in 1008 have never even met the man. I would have to say that for recieving almost $2000 in rent between the 7 of us, he could have at least made an appearance.

And yes, the house does LOOK up to code when you drive by. We actually found it in an online ad while studying abroad...we THOUGHT it looked good as well...untill we moved in. But by that time, we were already in a lease. As young, inexperianced renters, it is understood that at some point we each will come across homeowners/landlords very simialar to Del, but I do not think it is our fault for not questioning the situation in the first place. Some people hold a little thing called faith in others.

I do not see anything wrong with the process used to get Del's attention in this situation. If you or anyone you knew was a tenents of Dels I think you would understand as well. But seeing how some of you (offtotheright) are nothing more than internet junkies, i suppose you have nothing better to do than post comments on others ignorance anyways.

This is something that was long due to happen in Lawrence so future students dont get put in simialar situations. The main message to take away from all this is to seriously check out your landlord before renting...not everyone practices good business.

Hawkman 8 years, 12 months ago

So neveragain...how long have you lived there?

Tony Kisner 8 years, 12 months ago

Hedgepath said in a phone interview Saturday that he purchased the home 10 years ago with the porch already constructed.

"I had no way of knowing that it wasn't up to code," he said.

As for the basement, he said he knew the windows were small but believed that the house had been grandfathered in when city codes changed in 1997.

Looks like he drank the same medicine the renter did, know the law and read carefully. - Poor guy who indeed is the victim here.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

The article is only a summery of the actual events. Unless you are one of the parties involved, you have no idea what else transpired. How do we know for sure if she did or did not try to contact the landlord throughout the year to get things fixed? How do we know his response (or lack there of)? To be so critical of her when you do not have full knowledge of all that happened only shows your ignorance and the fact that you are an angry, negative, ready to put anyone down person. Grow up. Learn all the facts before you smash peoples caracter and possibly ruin their reputation (this is called SLANDER).

Sigmund 8 years, 12 months ago

Summary of Events: 1. Landlord shows apartment 2. Tenant signs lease 3. Tenant lives in property one year 4. Tenant forgets to meet obligation under lease to notify 5. Tenant calls the City instead of following the law. 6. City helps Tenant avoid her obligations under the Law.

The End.

Current Kansas Law KSA 58-2559. Material noncompliance by landlord; notice; termination of rental agreement; limitations; remedies; security deposit.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this act, if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with K.S.A. 58-2553 materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a periodic rent-paying date not less than thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice. The rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice, subject to the following:

(1) If the breach is remediable by repairs or the payment of damages or otherwise, and the landlord adequately initiates a good faith effort to remedy the breach within fourteen (14) days after receipt of the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate.

Hawkman 8 years, 12 months ago

hummingbird_friend.....doesnt your logic go both ways???? against the tenant or the landlord or does your light only shine on one side of the street?

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

Hawkman if you reread my comment you will see that it does go both ways. I stressed the girls defense more simply because she is the one that is being trashed the most. We do not have all the facts, so we can only speculate. To be so critical of either side without these facts is a little immature.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

If the building was in such deplorable condition as to become condemed then either the landlord is blind or completly ignored the laws requiring it's upkeep.

Hawkman 8 years, 12 months ago

hummingbird_friend...I thought that is what LJW blogs were all about...to blow things totally out of proportion; to be critcal of everyone and everybody; jump conclusions at every possible instance; and to belittle the masses who do not have the mental capacity to think like "I" think????? Am I missing something???? LOL

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

The girl is young and not very worldly. She needs to learn from this to read all contracts completely and to ask questions about what is not clear. If she had done so none of this would have happened to HER.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

offtotheright You need to reread the article.

Hawkman Yes, but some take it too far.

mom_of_three 8 years, 12 months ago

Why wouldn't a landlord point out a clause in his lease form? Why, because he doesn't want someone to read it, and he, in turn, makes more money.

I remember both of my landlords stating, as I read and signed the contract, that I had to inform them within a certain period of time if I was moving. Maybe I had some reputable landlords.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

offtotheright she called other for advise first. THEY told her to call the city.

BASrules 8 years, 12 months ago

It would be nice to see this man brought to some sort of consequence. I lived in a slumlord Hedgepath building for over a one year. Two of our apartments were condemed while I was there. I could go into a long maddening rant about my experiences and the condition of the apartment house, but it is much the same as Andrea's. Renting from him was one of the most awful experiences I've encountered in my 8 years in Lawrence. If that man continues to elude justice, then at the very least PLEASE do not rent from him. All of his properties are falling apart. I used to be scared to leave my house over night for fear that it might burn down due to faulty wiring or an ancient, inreliable heater. I salute Andrea for her actions.

mom_of_three 8 years, 12 months ago

In the rental agreement, the landlord usually stipulates how much the rent is and the date it is due, including penalities. But landlords (car dealers, etc, anyone with contracts), make sure they TELL you that information, too.
So why wouldn't a landlord mention the auto renewal clause?? hhhmmm, more money, perhaps.

mom_of_three 8 years, 12 months ago

But yes, she should have read the contract.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

A lanlord who wants happy tenants that will stay instead of a continuous turnover, would be willing to take the time with the contract.

Rental properties are a reflection of the person who owns them. They are an income yes. In this aspect a well kept place will have happy tenants. Which in turn means less tenant destruction and less turnover. Both of which means more money.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

An owner who does not care about his tenantsand is only concerned with the money will take the cheapest and easiest route.

hummingbird_friend 8 years, 12 months ago

Thank you Reality_Check. You have proven my point that there are careing landlords.

oliveGarden 8 years, 12 months ago

OMG . somebody in KC owns an old house on Miss. St. somebody lives in it because ITS CLOSE TO CAMPUS and now we are all talking about it and the only information we have is from the article.

Klickhammer 8 years, 12 months ago

The landlord broke the law. Yes, she helped to point it out. Yes, she also gets to get out of her lease. But he did break the law. The lease carries with it more than a contract for a space; it implies compliance with code. His property did not comply with code. Furthermore, it has been condemned as a result. He didn't hold up his end of the bargain.

If the bit about the automatic renewal of the lease was removed from the equation, where would you side, offtotheright? Still with the landlord? Well, legally the automatic renewal doesn't apply in this case. It's moot. How can you still sympathize with the landlord? Do you believe that tenets should live in places that violate the code no matter what? Or are you mad that it appears as though the tenet used the code violations to break her lease, which she felt was unfair because of the automatic renewal? Do you believe she was taking advantage of the poor landlord, who didn't keep his property up to code? No smoke detectors, for god's sake.

I think you ought to try to separate her opinions from the hard facts of this case. She could have been upset about the landlord's haircut and still the property is in violation of the code. C'mon, man. Try to be more objective.

pigsinspace_2001 8 years, 12 months ago

Who checks mold content before they move into a rental unit? Who checks for smoke detectors, either, really, when you are a student?? But, after living in a place for a year, you notice these things. Sumpter was not a building inspector... but when she was faced with spending another year in this run-down place, she did a smart thing. It is pathetic that anyone would accuse her of doing something bad by having her home checked out. The automatic renewal part of a lease is sleazy, just like it sounds Hedgepath runs his rental units. Seriously... no smoke detectors?? ... c'mon! This has been a law for decades! This is so slumlordy.

Klickhammer 8 years, 12 months ago

Even if she went about it the "wrong way", it all boils down to whose technicality you agree with more. The landlord did insert the automatic renewal clause into the lease, and she used the city and the media to get out of it. Who is more at fault? Neither action was more illegal than the other; the automatic renewal clause isn't illegal, and reporting the code violations isn't illegal. However, the landlord was in violation of the code, which is illegal.

As far as the approaching the code problem the "wrong way", we have testimonial above from another renter in the same building who stated that the landlord was not approachable. If true, should a tenet have to confront a landlord such as the one described in order to satisfy some unspoken etiquette? No, I don't believe she does. Just like when someone is committing a crime it is a better idea to call the police than to confront the criminal. She took the most prudent action.

misssmh 8 years, 12 months ago

Kudos to Andrea for bringing down a slumlord in Lawrence! It goes w/out saying that Lawrence could indeed use a few less of those!

There seem to be some very critical observations on her actions...especially from "offtotheright," which makes wonder what exactly his motive is as there is more than a little hostility coming through his emails.

Regardless, she did make a mistake and she admitted that. She was in a situation that sucked and called the right resources for help. Will she make the same mistake again? No. Will the landlord make the same choices again? You bet he will.

At the end of the day the issue here is that the landlord violated the city's codes...not her. Get off her back and instead give her a hand that she had the guts to take action against him...

fletch 8 years, 12 months ago

Landlord did a scummy thing and got busted for it. I've got no sympathy for him. Automatic renewals are a crock and everybody knows it. The good landlords in town make a point to contact tennants early and often about when to renew. The scummy landlords avoid doing anything to remind them. When a law is only being exercised by the scummiest landlords in town, you know you're got a bad law. This guy got what he deserved. If you're renting a house and you can't be bothered to call your tennant and talk with them one on one about renewal, you deserve anything coming to you.

The last house I lived in wasn't the best in town. The foundation had shifted, leading to a lot of cracks and ventilation problems. The furnace was always on the fritz. Our front yard couldn't grow grass under any condition. But at least our landlord treated us like human beings and always stopped by to say hi and talk with us instead of just cashing the checks 12 times a year.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

I'm curious as to why my comment about Hedgepath was removed. I didn't say anything different from what others have said about him. He's a slumlord, and I think it's especially important for people who've had to deal with him in the past to speak up. There's no reason for LJworld to censor such posts.

kris10p4 8 years, 12 months ago

While we are on the topic of horrible landlords, I just wanted to remind anyone out there that STONEHOUSE RENTALS is one of the worst landlords in town! Just an FYI!

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Posted by pigsinspace_2001 (anonymous) on July 10, 2006 at 5:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"From comments above (notably: neveragain, feeble), it becomes more and more obvious that Hedgepath might not be the best landlord. I am sure that he didn't really "think" it was up to code... instead, I am sure he chose to pretend that it was and never have the place inspected. He owned the place for 10 years, but the codes changed in 1997 (9 years ago) -- he didn't have the place inspected then?!! Seriously, he had no smoke detectors, that is pathetic!

The tenets said he wouldn't return phone calls. He pulls a bllsht move with the lease... I can understand why Sumpter did what she did (after the housing hotlines told her to do it). Sure, she didn't do the best thing (by not adhering to the lease), but to blame her is PATHETIC!

It sounds like Hedgepath is a slumlord, out and out. Slumlords don't take action because they want $$. If Andrea stuck to her lease, gave proper notice then moved, someone else would be living in that horrible building now. Too bad it took these circumstances to condem the place, but Hedgepath was taking advantage of (and risking the lives of) his tenants. Bit him in the ass. Makes me smile."

Taking advantage of students is the thing to do in this town. Most of Hedgepath's property is on Mississippi street. He charges an outrageous amount of rent for hole-in-the-wall apartments because he knows eventually a student that wants someplace close to campus will move in. And it's not just him! Many of the landlords that own property around campus do the same, and they're just as bad about upkeep.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Macon,

Why must everything be twisted into a Liberal Vs. Conservative issue?

It's completely off topic.

misssmh 8 years, 12 months ago

Are you kidding me --- "Cheap rent does not equal nice digs" Please. Cheap rent also does not mean putting up with crap from your landlord.
How can anyone in good conscience support this slumlord?
And how can anyone judge Andrea without knowing her OR knowing all the facts? To say that she is "just another fragile young liberal [that] has been babied and spoonfed" is petty and unneccesary.

The point (again) here is that the guy was a slumlord and he is the one who needs to take the responsibility here.

misssmh 8 years, 12 months ago

Hello Macon47...Bitter, party of 2, your table is ready...

pigsinspace_2001 8 years, 12 months ago

It is funny, really, when people support this landlord's actions. Sumpter called him out. Who cares what her motivations were? HE WAS THE ONE BREAKING THE LAW. She is innocent. I am sure she would have paid rent for an entire year had her apartment not been CONDEMMED. She wouldn't have been happy paying, but there is nothing in this article to imply that she isn't responsible (except for not reading the lease, of course). She was advised to do these things. He is a poopy-head.

I love my landlord... I have had several to varing degrees of likeablity. Sadly, some are jerks and even fewer cross the line into "slumlords."

BTW, just because it is cheap, doesn't mean she should have to risk her life. There is a basic, minimum standard for houses that a college student might not be aware of when she first looks at a place. (How was she to know about the mold??)

BTW, again, if she was "babied" and "spoon-fed," why would she live in a cr*p-hole? Makes me believe that you (macon47), have never struggled in your life. Maybe I am wrong but, please, don't attack her for being innocent -- moreover, bringing a crime to light.

pigsinspace_2001 8 years, 12 months ago

Oh, wow, I just read your last post, macon47. Since this is how you argue, I am done. Pretty pathetic.

oldgranny 8 years, 12 months ago

offtotheright and macon accuse Miss Sumpter of being spoiled. But it is pretty clear to me that they are the ones who were raised in the lap of luxury. It is obvious from reading their posts (not just this thread) that they have never had to struggle for (or maybe even work for) a thing in their lives. They just don't get it.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Macon47,

First of all, where in the article does it say that's she's a liberal?

Second of all, I think you have forgotten that her "SMOOTHIE" or "loophole" to get out of her lease was actually created by the LANDLORD Who violated city code.

Klickhammer 8 years, 12 months ago

macon47 is just engaging in nonsense. There is no evidence of her political party, nor is there any evidence that she is spoiled. She could just as easily be a Republican (not that it matters because it is off topic). Contrary to the O'Rileys and Coulters of the world, you can't "win" arguments by bullying, lying, and refusing to actually consider what's being said.

Let's look at the facts, as you state them, point by point:

  • She needed a reason to break the lease. False. You assume she needed a reason to break the lease. She never states that she was attempting to break the lease.

  • (she admits she was wrong). True.

  • BUT she found a loophole to bail her big butt out. False. Violations of the law are hardly a loophole. A loophole, according to Webster's 11th, is "an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded." The intent of a lease is not to hold someone who signs it obligated without regard to the law; a lease functions within the constraints of the law. If the law is sufficiently violated, the lease is no longer binding.

  • So she won. False. There isn't really a race or competition where there can be a clearly declared winner. The lease was broken, but she admitted that it was at some cost to her: namely, she is without a residence.

  • She has no responsibility for a place she signed a lease for. False. She has responsibility insofar as the landlord upholds the law. After that, she is absolved of responsibility. This line of reasoning is like condemning someone for returning a faulty product when the manufacturer has a warranty. "You bought, you keep it, even if it doesn't work." It only stands up if there is no contract or law stating liability. In this case, there clearly is.

  • The slumlord is a bad man but he lucked out (sic) what if she had waddled over to the railing and leaned on it too hard (sic). SPLAT CITY (sic) the lawyers would be standing in line. This is hardly a fact. It is, in fact, the opposite.

So out of six facts, five of them are not factual at all. What gives, macon47?

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Thankyou, Klickhammer! :) You hit the nail right on the head.

Klickhammer 8 years, 12 months ago

Then I guess in macon47's black and white world, I am the winner!

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

Klickhammer, I do not condone this landlord for not taking care of his property and for failing to ensure that the condition of his property did not threaten the safety of his tenants; however, I would like to know: What ordinances, specifically, did this landlord violate?

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Is there a website listing the slumlords of Lawrence? If not, I think there should be. Since people keep pointing their finger at the students for being ignorant, maybe there should be a website to educate people about who the landlords are in Lawrence, what properties they own, and what kind of reputation they have? It should also have a guide as to what rights the Tenants/Landlords have.

Or is that illegal?

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Godot,

The violations are listed in the article.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Klickhammer,

Don't even try to get into Macon's head.
I don't think he/she knows what's going on have the time anyway, so psycho-analysis would be pointless.

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

Calliope877, if the code that was broken is clear, please cite it. I think that there is a double standard in Lawrence, one that is more stringent for single family homes, and one that is non-existent for "multiple-family"(what a joke: meaning "multiple person living units) that requires less in safety and comfort.

What is/are the code(s), specifically, please?

daddax98 8 years, 12 months ago

No smoke detectors anywhere in the building.

¢ The deck was shoddily constructed and was the only exit for the top floor apartment.

¢ Windows in the basement apartment of the house were too small and didn't exist at all in some bedrooms, making escaping a fire nearly impossible.

¢ Potential electrical problems because of the breakers.

¢ Water infiltration that led to strong mold and mildew smells in the house

daddax98 8 years, 12 months ago

those are the violations you can look the code numbers up yourself

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

There is a difference between what is right (having smoke detectors on every floor, having the deck reinforced, allowing for two exits from every apartment, and clearing the living units of mold and dampness) and what is required by statute.

Lawrence government has made sure that new construction and single family rental units are kept up to current code and meet stringent safety requirements; however, Lawrence government has given a pass to the student ghettos throughout Lawrence, the multiple-housing units, the converted houses, the rabbit-warren-like four-six-eight-twelve-plexes that offer housing without the oversight of city inspetion and licensing.

THIS is the problem.

daddax98 8 years, 12 months ago

are we taking about state statute or city ordinance? because local governments have the right to adopt local laws through home rule as long as they do not violate an unambigious (sp) state mandate

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 12 months ago

so now one is out of money and one out of a place to live, sounds like the two apt. condemed or whatever, needed to be vacated and maybe the landlord will be a better one after this.

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Godot,

If you're wanting city ordinance, then visit the city's webpage. You shouldn't need a poster to give you that information. You should maybe take more initiative about finding those things out.:(

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

Godot said:

"There is a difference between what is right (having smoke detectors on every floor, having the deck reinforced, allowing for two exits from every apartment, and clearing the living units of mold and dampness) and what is required by statute.

Lawrence government has made sure that new construction and single family rental units are kept up to current code and meet stringent safety requirements; however, Lawrence government has given a pass to the student ghettos throughout Lawrence, the multiple-housing units, the converted houses, the rabbit-warren-like four-six-eight-twelve-plexes that offer housing without the oversight of city inspetion and licensing."

Would you cite YOUR sources please?

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

Calliope877, thanks for referencing the Landlord and Tenants Act.

It appears that the act refers back to the municipality for code enforcement.

It appears that there is a hole in the Lawrence code that grandfathers older multi-familty rental properties, allowing them more lenience than newer multi-family, and all single family rental properties.

Or so it appears....

Calliope877 8 years, 12 months ago

So are you sticking up for the landlord?

I don't think such a lenience exists, and if it does, I think it's changing for the better. A slumlord is a slumlord, and they deserve what they get.

Godot 8 years, 12 months ago

Calliope, I am saying that the ordinances in Lawrence are more stringent for owners of single family rental properties than for the owners of multi-family rental properties, particularly the older ones, and that flies in the face of logic and public safety.

Terry Jacobsen 8 years, 12 months ago

Oh boo hoo. I'm only a College Student. It's not my fault I can't read english on a two page lease. Wah wah, I am just setting myself up to be a victim all of my life, so I can blame all my own stupid problems on someone else. Any fool who would live in an old house around campus that has no smoke detectors is simply not being an advocate for their own safety. Wake up and smell the coffee girl, it's time to grow up and be an adult.

lunacydetector 8 years, 12 months ago

prediction: neighborhood resources' phone calls increase 10-fold by tenants wanting to break their leases.

troubleeveryday 8 years, 12 months ago

I'd like to point out that our hero, Mr. Del Hedgepath himself, has made headlines before.

He was once a feature story, alongside Maya Angelou and David Geffen, in the book "Rags to Riches: Motivating Stories of How Ordinary People Achieved Extraordinary Wealth!". (available at amazon.com).

There are indeed many lessons to this multi-faceted story, but I certainly hope one of them is not that carelessly leasing unsafe housing to poor college students using confusing contracts and a "how was i supposed to know" excuse for property neglect is a great way to make some money.

I, for one, admit that I do not know the whole story, and I am not about to cast judgement on people that I know little about other than the few lines of text in this article.

Generally speaking, however, I do believe that landlords, especially in Lawrence, have just about the easiest job (if the term is even applicable) in the world. I don't feel sorry for any of them for having to mind city ordinances and codes, pay taxes, advertise, arrange for a few appliances to be installed, or fix a few windows when 90 percent of the time they are doing nothing but sitting back and letting the checks roll in.

Also, I'd like to say that I'm dissapointed by the mean-spirited comments of the few people on this ridiculous thread who seem too blinded by their need to chastise the tenant to realize their own hypocrisies and fallacious assumptions. At worst, I'll agree that the tenant can be called an opportunist in this situation. But that is as far as I would go.

Posters such as cowardly Macon47, who remarked that "Some day she will learn she has to take responsibility For her own actions, and not just be a whiner."

Macon seems almost not to realize that he is whining anonymously on a website, without fear of having to take responsibility for the hate he spews. But that type of inanity is to be expected. It is the following message in which he actually poses an absurd hypothetical involving the tenant's falling from the third-floor railing that is disturbing and disheartening. If this is how you and other posters such as "offtotheright" feel, I wish you would keep your twisted and severely misguided thoughts to yourself and take out your aggressions elsewhere.

pigsinspace_2001 8 years, 12 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Lisia 8 years, 11 months ago

Landlords should keep their property in good condition and treat their tenants with respect. Tenants should pay on time and inform landlords promptly about problems with the house/apartment.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way.

I work for a very small property management company. One particular house this year called the City inspectors because we informed them that they had to change their own light bulbs (which is stated in their lease- and they actually emailed us along the lines of "haha, we've called the City on you!"). The inspectors actually found nothing wrong with the property and sent us a nice letter saying that the tenants had said the property was in violation when in fact it was not.

The landlords who don't work to keep their places nice make me angry. They give a bad name to those of us who do work hard and respect our tenants.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 11 months ago

Landlords upset? Fine. They ought to maintain compliance with code.

Calliope877 8 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

smallone 8 years, 12 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

vinividivici 8 years, 11 months ago

"Sounds like to me there are a whole lot of renters posting...ones that 'got screwed by landlords'.

Uh huh! Grow up, buy your own home, pay your own taxes!"

These absolutes are rediculous. Yes, I am a renter. I'm 20, living on my own 600 miles from my parents. I'm not in school. And I have 1 full time job assisting a property manager, and a part time job at LMH. I unfortunatly cannot afford to buy my own house, and the $525 a month that I pay goes to PAY FOR THE PROPERTY TAXES THAT THE LANDLORD PAYS TO THE CITY (or state. ) Thats how renting property works. Were it not for renters, like myself, do you think your property value would be as high as it is, or that Lawerence buisnesses would prosper without our buisness? Don't bite the hand that helps feed you. You give residents a bad name, and there are to many compassionate ones for you to ruin it for.

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