Archive for Saturday, March 24, 2007

City Commission to consider expanded rental inspections

March 24, 2007

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One Lawrence neighborhood concerned with housing safety

Concerns over housing safety in the Oread neighborhood have residents calling for higher rental standards. People living in the area say they want the same treatment in their high-density, multi-family zoned neighborhood as in other parts of Lawrence. Enlarge video

Candice Davis, Lawrence, is lobbying for a new rental registration program in the city. Davis, a landlord and member of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, believes a rental registration program could have saved an Oread Neighborhood house like the one behind Davis at 1019 Ky., for which a demolition permit is being sought.

Candice Davis, Lawrence, is lobbying for a new rental registration program in the city. Davis, a landlord and member of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, believes a rental registration program could have saved an Oread Neighborhood house like the one behind Davis at 1019 Ky., for which a demolition permit is being sought.

The city is being asked to undertake a $300,000 program to register and inspect every rental unit in the city as concerns grow that renters are living in substandard conditions.

Representatives of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods are seeking a new city inspection program after seeing several rental homes deteriorate to the point that they've become candidates for demolition.

"We're concerned for the safety of the students because of the condition of some of the property that is being rented," said Candice Davis, a representative of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and a resident of Oread Neighborhood, which is largely rental.

The city currently has a rental registration program, but it only is for rental properties that are in single-family zones. It does not include apartment complexes or rental homes that are zoned for multi-family use.

That includes most homes in the Oread Neighborhood, Davis said. She said those rental units are not inspected unless they are remodeled and require a building permit.

"Some of these places have gone on for 75 years, probably, with nobody but the tenant getting inside," said Davis, who suspects there are many units with electrical code or fire code issues. "I think that's wrong."

City commissioners are scheduled to discuss the idea at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Landlord concerns

Several landlords on Friday said they have concerns with the idea. James Dunn, who also lives in the Oread Neighborhood, has about 100 units that would be affected by the new registration program. He said the program would be an unnecessary expansion of government bureaucracy.

"It just opens the door up to all kinds of ideas for the city to fund its budget through rental registration fees," Dunn said.

Bob Ebey, a Lawrence landlord who serves as legislative liaison for Associated Landlords of Kansas, said the city was prematurely considering the new system because the city's current system to register single-family rental homes is currently being challenged in federal court. Two Lawrence renters - backed by landlord interests - have sued the city in federal court claiming that the inspection process violates the constitutional prohibition on unreasonable government searches and seizures. A federal judge has upheld the city's system, but that ruling has been appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Both Ebey and Dunn also said the new system was unnecessary because the city already had a system that allows any renter to call city officials and report a housing code violation. Such complaints trigger an inspection of the rental unit.

But Davis, who also is a landlord, said many tenants don't report problems to the city because they fear a loss of their rental deposit or retaliation from their landlord.

Program needs

Brian Jimenez, code enforcement manager for the city, said his department receives about 100 to 150 complaints per year from renters. He said the vast majority of the inspections do uncover housing code violations.

But Jimenez and city staff members are not making a recommendation on whether the city should start the new program. That's in part because the new program would require significant amounts of new personnel.

Staff members are estimating that it would take four inspectors and two administrative support positions to staff the program, assuming that each rental unit would be inspected once every three years. Total first-year cost for the program would be about $315,000. The costs could be recouped through a fee. Currently, the city charges $25 per unit to inspect single-family rental homes.

The city's Neighborhood Resources Department, which would oversee the program, estimates that the program would add at least 12,000 additional units to the city's inspection work. According to census data - which estimates about 55 percent of all housing units in Lawrence are rentals - the number could be closer to 16,000 units.

The size of the project should cause city commissioners to think long and hard about adding the program, Mayor Mike Amyx said.

"When you stop and consider that we'd be registering and inspecting more than half the homes in Lawrence, I'm not sure how well we can handle all of that," said Amyx, who also is a landlord.

Several of the larger apartment complexes and management companies in town either declined to comment or said they weren't yet familiar enough with the proposal to comment on it when reached Friday. Attempts to reach an attorney for the Lawrence Apartment Association also were unsuccessful.

- 6News Reporter Laura McHugh contributed to this report.

Comments

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

This is a major worm can waiting to be opened. there are thousands of properties that will not pass even the most cursory inspections that are renting for highrents to students and lower income folks. These landlords have not upgraded anything in tens of years. The city was very eager to claim protecting the public when implementing the smoking ban , well see if when faced witha real definable safety issue they step up to the plate.

Start with pre 1985 housing first , an inspection every five years , and one year limit to bring into compliance. Along with some grandfather clauses for non code structural issues.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget the Lead Based Paint, Asbestos, and Mold issues as well. These are mostly commercial properties under the asbestos laws, and are regulated under lead .

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

This will create a lot of available lots in the city interior as they are forced to bulldoze a bunch of these fire traps.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

This is one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations. If you do implement such a program, the good landlords, and their tenants, are subjected an unnecessary hassle and expense. If you don't, the bad landlords, many of whom engage in what can legitimately be called criminal negligence, continue business as usual.

Maybe the better option is to make these inspections optional. Good landlords can get a "seal of approval" that will tell prospective tenants that they are getting a safe and well-maintained residence. Tenants can still report substandard residences to the city as a hedge against the worst landords and properties.

Another option-- allow tenants the opportunity to assess how well a landlord maintains a rental unit, and require landlords to supply these assessments to future prospective tenants. The landlords, of course, should be allowed to rebut these assessments, but at least it allows a "buyer-beware" capability to tenants. Landlords already have a similar ability through references.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Good points, ASBESTOS and cowboy, although I hope it would tend to save structures rather than leading to their demolition.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 5 months ago

From years in the Environmental Field, I have come to the conclusion that everything springs from asbestos and how it is handled.

TBS, I would want to see from a Landlord their OSHA Worker Safety Programs for Lead Based Paint, and Asbestos, which would possibly require a respirator program. These are required by federal law, and yes a residence where a worker is working is a "worksite" undere OSHA jurisdiction. It is just that the State of Kansas and the muncipalities are in the dark ages here and ignore asbestos and LBP isues.

Additionally, I would want to a maintenance schedule. When the furnace gets inspected, and how old we let these things get.

You cannot oppose coal fired power plants, and support the "green initiatives" that this goofy city commission comes up with and ignore the Heating Cooling units in these buildings. They only maintain them or fix them when they break and can no longer be fixed.

I think that all rentals need to have new energy efficient HVAC units installed. That would make a big dent in saving energy, AND would address the maintenance issues. $3500 would do it.

In the end if a landlord is complying with the OSHA Asbestos Standard and have a great Preventative Manitenance plan, they will have no mold. They will have no lead or asbestos issues, and they will be renting a quality unit or dwelling.

The rest, ... rip off artists only interested in gaining money at the expense of other's safety and comfort.

With the housing de-valuation coming, I fear that these rat holes are only going to get worse. Most property owners will not put money in a property asset on the downtrend.

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo , i don't think the seal of approval would motivate these slumlords to do anything , they rent to students and folks who don't have many options anyway , trust me i know many of them and they really don't give a darn. I've seen many of these houses that are just plain cancerous and should be knocked down immediately. The structure is rotted the electrical beyond decrepid and plumbing just barely hanging on. I wouldn't let my dog live in many of these.

Many of these were section 8 properties at one time and were removed by the owners because they couldn't comply with minimum HUD requirements including lead abatement !

This could be used as a good thing to force some redevelopment in the center of the city. Save the good stuff and rebuild the stuff that can't be recovered.

the other issue is that the NHR has not had the balls to go up against many of these prominent slumlords.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

What a slippery slope...

Were Ebey and Dunn that concerned when only some of the landlords were required to allow city invasion? How did this regulation come about to begin with? It seemed to become effective just prior to the frenzied construction of massive apartment complexes.

But, why stop with rental properties? Why doesn't the city consider inspecting every property in Lawrence - residential, commercial and retail? Be sure to charge everyone for the "right to live or work in your property" license fee.

Why should property owners be required to make repairs when the city itself is not held to the same standard?

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Monkey , landlords are engaged in a commercial enterprise for profit. In any other endeavor you are liable for the hazards your product or service creates.

My feeling is that the tenants deserve to have a safe environ and the landlord should have to provide that as a basic responsibility. I have met many who will not perform the appropriate repair and apply half-a$$ed fixes and or dangerous fixes to problems. I won't work for these folks.

The initial inspection process was a ruse to try and keep rental props out of some of the neighborhoods. The inspections are weak , and the enforcement inconsistent. If your Doug Compton and have an old fire trap they don't enforce , if you're Mr & Mrs own one rental home then they enforce.

On the flipside why would you disagree that rental homes should be safe and healthy ? Most of the professional landlords have a budget for annual upgrades and plan these in advance , have nice properties and reasonable rents and pocket very good returns each year.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

cowboy, I don't disagree with anything you are saying. Yes, people have a right to be safe in their residence. But, I have a problem with city regulation and hypocrisy. What responsibility does the tenant have to find safe housing and investigate before they rent? Seems that the kids want amenities these days - swimming pools, gyms and laundry facilities within their units. I believe the trend has led many of them away from the student slums of the past.

What Ms. Davis seems to believe is that people cannot think for themselves and need our local government to do that for them. We have already lost some of our personal freedoms for the honor and pleasure of living in Lawrence. How many more are we willing to give up?

I have been subjected to city inspection. My house was rated in the top 5% in the city by the inspector. This regulation imposes on those who prefer to have top notch properties (which I do not market to students, however), and assumes that all property managers are slumlords, while the real culprits are given a pass.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 5 months ago

Correct on all points there Marion, however, I have worked in the Lawrence Area for many years and the contractors and the Property Managers IGNORE these issues. They repair and renovate with no controls and the asbestos and lead is disturbed and contaminates a house or dwelling.

I was commenting on the WORKER portion of these issues, which is why I went to the OSHA standards. Meaning I was not addressing the Lead, Asbestos, in the structure in place, but when it is disturbed in fixes and remodels and repairs.

Lead is a problem actually when it is in the DUST generated from rubbing or demolition or deteriation of the paint film. Breathing the lead dust is just as bad as eating it.

Actually Radon deaths are WAY down the list. Asbestos ALONE kills anywhere from 14,000-20,000 American's a year and sickens about 100,000 peryear.

It is a big deal there Marion and FAR outpaces Radon injury and death. Most of the poor usually end up on medicare and a mesothelioma or asbestosis case can be anywhere from $400,000 to $750,00 per case til death, Lead Paint impacted Child is millions.

The reason to watch these things is to see if the landlords are complying with the "big picture" issues. If they cannot keep their workers safe, what chance does the tennant have?

Plus we have disclosure laws there and all managed properties including residential rental units need to be inspected for asbestos or all materials assumed to be asbestos and the workers protected. This should then has to be disclosed to the tennant.

As I said, asbestos is the guidance, and The State of Kansas and the Muncipalities look the other way.

Asbestos is NOT banned either, you can get new building materials with asbestos in them, and they are usually the cheaper ones that the contractors use. Watch the MSDS for these materials as well. You usually do not get the corresponding MSDS for the materials but a "generic one".

tot 8 years, 5 months ago

This is a BRILLIANT idea. Granted it has some kinks that need worked out. Rental prices are ridiculous in this town. It is wonderful that someone is even considering making the living conditions keep up with the cost. I think they should consider though, it isn't just students renting. It has been my experience with my previous landlords that they DON'T CARE about their tenants' living conditions as long as they get that rent check. Finally someone could be making them accountable for something.

Tammie Bryant 8 years, 5 months ago

If the entire city of Lawrence didn't change their leases on July 31 it is plausible that the rentals could be inspected when there weren't any tenants living there. Instead everyone makes this mad dash to move out and in on the same day.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Upon further consideration, I think the advantages of such a law far outweigh any disadvantages. The amount of regulation would not have to be that onerous, and the unscrupulous business practices of too many landlords need to be dealt with. A state law would be preferable, though.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 5 months ago

What responsibility does the tenant have, monkeyhawk?

The tenant has NO responsibility in making sure that a rental property is safe to live in. That should be totally on the landlord's head. If it isn't safe, they shouldn't be renting them to begin with. They shouldn't be allowed to.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of desperate people out there who need a place to live and don't have a lot of money, and they will put up with things that they know aren't right, in order to have a roof over their heads, even if it leaks. Lower income tenants are not going to call the city to complain about code violations. They're afraid the landlord will kick them out. It's happened before. Illegal? Maybe...but tell that to a tenant who has been kicked out, and has no money to file a lawsuit against the landlord. Or they're afraid they'll have to move because the place isn't up to code, and they'll have nowhere else to go.

While this plan sounds good on the surface, I fear that it will create more problems than it solves. You can expect the homeless population to grow, for one thing. Many rental properties wouldn't pass inspection, and if the landlord refuses to fix it up (which many would), it would have to be demolished. So there would be far fewer rentals available for lower income people.

As for homes being sold, as someone mentioned, I never heard of a home that was sold without being inspected first. It's usually required either by the loan company or the insurance company before any sale takes place. After that, it's up to the property owner (either the old or the new) to fix any code violations. And if they don't, they can be fined, or they can face demolition as well.

I don't think the pending court case should have anything to do with the plan. They don't have to necessarily inspect rentals while people are living there. But it could be a requirement, from now on, that if a rental is vacant, it has to be inspected and any code violations fixed before the lanlord can rent it again. That might put a stop to some of it. Landlords want that money in their pockets every month, after all.

There you go. Any landlord found to have rentals not up to code could be fined a monthly fee until the problems are fixed. That might help.

On a side note...has anyone else noticed the tendency around here for landlords to be behind on the property taxes for their rentals? It happens a LOT.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

This would be good for landlords with good properties. As the bad properties are taken off the market, the good landlords will be able to raise their prices. The more bad properties are taken from the market the higher remaining properties can raise their prices. Everyone needs to understands and acknowledge that such a program is going to mean that tenants will be paying higher rents and those most negatively impacted will be the poorer residents.

Perhaps instead of removing all the marginal properties from the market, all landlords should be required to have the tenants sign a copy of the inspection. Rental rates would reflect the condition of the property. If a single college student is less concerned about lead based paint and more concerned about mold, for instance, that information would be readily available and be reflected in the price.

Jamesaust 8 years, 5 months ago

Like many positive goals (safe, livable housing), people delude themselves as to how this will work.

There are only two parties who will pay the cost here - the public at large or tenants. There is no option for these landlords to pay but rather they would merely pass their cost onto the renters.

Indeed, making this change simultaneously citywide guarantees that there will be no competition keeping rental prices down. (The least the City could do would be to implement this plan in stages within fixed geographic limits, which would provide an exception to the general rule - landlords in the initial areas would need to bear at least some costs themselves to prevent their tenants from moving to as-yet 'unregulated' areas.)

Now people are free to say, 'okay, I don't care if these renters end up paying higher prices' but don't delude yourselves into thinking that won't happen.

Ideally, however, if Lawrence considers this goal to be a public good then the public should pay for it via a 'rental improvement fund' with revenues out of the general treasury. (But we all know that the "concerned" neighbors will never pay themselves.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Requiring that rental properties meet some minimal standards will not mean that they all either become "luxury" apartments or are bulldozed. There are a lot of decent rental properties in town that aren't the least bit upscale that could still pass inspection.

This very likely would mean that slumlords who do nothing but collect rentchecks until the building collapses from neglect will look for other ways to make an easy buck. And that would be good for everyone, with the exception of the slumlords.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

" ... of our personal freedoms for the honor and pleasure of living in Lawrence. How many more are we willing to give up?"

elsewhere in the code, it makes a renter a lawbreaker if he/she has a short shallow desk placed in front of a window designated for fire egress! nanny state regulation. very irritating.

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years, 5 months ago

My landlord came over with an "inspector" last week. Wonder what that means?

Linda Endicott 8 years, 5 months ago

If it means what it did when my landlord did it a few months ago, it means he's thinking of taking out a loan on the property.

That's what my landlord did. Now we can only hope he keeps up with his payments.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

"My landlord came over with an "inspector" last week. Wonder what that means?"

It probably means you live in a house in a neighborhood zoned "single family." All rentals in those neighborhoods are subject to inspection every three years.

I say, if it is good for some, it should be good for all, or be abandoned as the bad idea it was in the first place.

I resent having to have my nice, quiet, well kept single familiy properties inspected and nit-picked (such as, "you need to have a conversation with your tenant about keeping the grout in the shower clean) while the run down fourplex down the street goes completely uninspected. And I resent having to pay the $25 fee, per unit, every year, while the owners of multiple family rental properties don't have to pay a dime. It is unfair, it was government intervention on behalf of special interests when it was implemented, and it needs to go away.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"One of you mentioned that we should change all HVAC, at a cost of $3500. Are you kidding? Give me a tax abatement to make it worth my while and I'll do it anyway, but require it? No way. Can't afford it."

If we hadn't flushed at least $2 trillion dollars down the hole in Iraq, a good deal of that money could have gone towards programs like that, which would have helped the economy, increased our energy independence and our national security.

"Sounds like solution in search of a problem to me."

The problem may not include you, but it's definitely there.

JohnBrown 8 years, 5 months ago

WHY IS DUNFIELD'S LETTER TO THE EDITOR MISSING? Here it is: Job growth Thursday, March 22, 2007

To the editor:

Misinformation blossoms like spring dandelions during election season. Unfortunately, once erroneous ideas take hold, they become very hard to uproot. Let me try.

In recent letters, Deb Passig and Dwayne Peaslee have both suggested that the current City Commission has stymied job growth, among other alleged failings. Some commission candidates have been making the same assertion.

The fact is exactly the opposite. According to the city's partner in economic development efforts, jobs in Lawrence have grown steadily over the last four years when compared to the years immediately preceding them. Let me quote from an article in the most recent (March 2007) Chamber Newsletter, titled, "And the Progress Continues": "The Kansas Department of Labor indicates even stronger economic development performance for the community during 2006. Civilian job growth in Douglas County/ Lawrence has outstripped Topeka, Kansas City, Johnson County and the state's employment growth rate."

Let's review: According to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, under the current City Commission, job growth has shown steady and strong progress and produced a better performance in 2006 than even our famously pro-growth Johnson County neighbors.

Can we agree to pluck this "unfriendly-to-employers" weed and decide the election on the basis of real issues?

David Dunfield,

Lawrence

Ragingbear 8 years, 5 months ago

Although I am not familiar with Ebey's housing, I can tell you right now that Dunn is against this bill because he is one of the most blatant violators of housing safety codes. For example, permanantly blocked sewer lines, live exposed wires (Not even the protective sheath around them, just bare metal),Severe rot in floors and porches, not to mention how his apartments require nothing of a background check, renting to large amount of registered sex offenders, drug dealers and people with massive records for domestic violence.

He also claims to be a proponent of low-cost housing for the poor. Too bad most of his apartments are above the limit that Section 8 is willing to cover. Sometimes by as much as $200.

In my book, if he is against it, it is incentive enough to want to see it pushed forward. This man is one of Lawrence's largest Slumlords. Right up there with Gage Management (Sunflower Apartments) and the people that run Hampton Courts. In some ways, even worse.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"But we did flush $2 tril. What's that got to with Lawrence, Kansas anyway?"

Instead of flushing that $2 trillion in Iraq just to sieze their oilfields for Bush's oil buddies, we could have started a comprehensive energy conservation program, which could have included tax credits and grants for insulating and sealing houses, and putting in high-efficiency HVAC systems, among many other possible measures in housing, transportation and industry.

An opportunity lost just to subsidize very narrow vested interests and cause the murders of hundreds of thousands of people.

deec 8 years, 5 months ago

Hays is looking at rental inspections for much the same reasons that they are being considered in Lawrence. They are also working on an incentive program for installing efficient furnaces in rentals.

LogicMan 8 years, 5 months ago

Here's one place (only ...?) that Boulder, CO might be a good model to follow. A city/code inspector looked at each rental unit (including apartments) about once every three years.

It went really fast -- about five to ten minutes per apartment. They'd find little things mostly -- e.g., plumbing repair related, etc. They did test every unit's smoke detector, which was a very good thing. Also looked for stuff stored in mechanical closets, etc.

From my point-of-view, it also helped a little bit with keeping tenants educated about safety.

Checking out balconies and fire escapes would be high on my list for Lawrence's properties.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

"Instead of flushing that $2 trillion in Iraq just to sieze their oilfields for Bush's oil buddies, we could have started a comprehensive energy conservation program, which could have included tax credits and grants for insulating and sealing houses, and putting in high-efficiency HVAC systems, among many other possible measures in housing, transportation and industry.

An opportunity lost just to subsidize very narrow vested interests and cause the murders of hundreds of thousands of people."

prime example of Bush Derangement Syndrome. first, the Bozo on the wrong bus is saying the federal money should go into replacing units' HVAC's, proposing yet another big government socialist solution by one who is openly opposed to private property rights.

"murders?" betrays ignorance of war and history of war. innocents have always been killed unfortunately in war. you can't have war without some of that. sad but true. it doesn't mean you cannot go to war if you cannot fight a perfect war. also his numbers are radically inflated, including civilians killed by Saddam's forces, former members of Saddam's government, and even Al-qaeda. of course since the U.S. is always wrong according to Bonzo, it makes sense to blame the U.S. for civilian deaths in killings by Al-Qaeda!

Siezing the oilfields? it would have been cheaper and easier to simply buy them from Saddam. this is a silly conspiracy theory that doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

finally, Bozo bringing the war into this discussion is simply silly, betraying a desperation, anger, and unhinged character. this thread was about the inspections, codes, nanny state regs, and not the war which his even $$ figure is inflated extremely.


these inspections are intrusions. if you want to fix the problem they are supposed to address, change city/state taxation policy to promote having improvements done that make a real difference.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

what about mold there is no regs. for that but it is bad for you, in large amounts, indoors.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

mommaeffortx2,Why would anyone move in when a house has mold? If the house does not have mold when you move in, and then develops mold after you have been there awhile, I'd say it is likely your fault. Get out the Clorox, apply a little elbow grease, and, voila, problem is solved.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

You're absolutely insane, BG. You'd prefer to flush $2 trillion (and counting) down a hole for absolutely no good reason, no positive gain in any aspect you want to look at it, rather than doing anything that would be even remotely "socialist," even though any honest look at the idea says it's a no-brainer.

Your religious adherence to an insane ideology is truly frightening.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

ZZZ2zzz

vacant, vacuous and vapid. don't expect anything better from the Bozo on the wrong bus. and again, trying to highjack the thread because of his Bush Derangement Syndrome. ... ZZZ2zzz

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

hawkperched has brought up some interesting points.

Hawk, to what to you refer with regard to the 3% loan? I have not hard of this before.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 5 months ago

Godot went "hawkperched has brought up some interesting points."

No really, though. The (self-styled) "hawk" has asked some questions in such a way that they really are assertions. If Ms. Davis indicates that she does not possess the appropriate licenses and permits, her credibility suffers. If she tries to defend herself, she comes across as if she's trying to hide something. She has no way of successfully winning in this situation....

It is an ancient and revered form of sophistry. It continues to succeed because, well, because we let it.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

no godot my house is fine but landlords do do some shady cover ups and then by the time people realize the reason they keep having upper respitory problems is mold.... I own, no mold never even had a leak in over 11 years, and no boat in the drive.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 5 months ago

reality check...while some landlords would fix problems if the tenants asked them to, there are far too many who wouldn't...or would blame the tenant and retaliate if the city was informed. And that is why it's a problem.

Just out of curiosity, how much income do you get from your rentals? Do you have a job besides? My landlord does, and a good paying one at that. This is the only rental property he owns, and he's making good money off of it, too...yet he still won't fix things, even when he's told there's a problem. Even when he does, I'm sometimes left waiting for months.

OTTR, I guess you could buy a house without an inspection, but you'd better have cash to pay for it. I don't know of any loan company or bank that doesn't require an inspection before they will give you the loan to buy a property. They don't want to pour their money down a rat hole, and if the house is in really bad shape, you won't get the loan.

And if you have a lien on a property, you are required to have insurance on it. Most insurance companies will require an inspection as well.

And of course any potential buyer with any common sense would insist on an inspection anyway.

How many properties do you own?

sourpuss 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm all for inspections of rentals. Lawrence has some god-awful rentals.

To Reality_Check: If you raise your rents and people don't want to pay them, you'll have empty units and no income. No one can get more for something than people are willing to pay. That is how the free market works.

One of the biggest problems Lawrence has for rentals is ABSENTEE LANDLORDS. Sure, there's a crooked "management company" fronting for the owners, but the MC's only job is to make as much money as possible for the owners. This involves charging the last tenants for cleaning and then telling the next tenants they "Didn't have time to clean, but if they keep track of the time they spent cleaning, they'll get a break on their rent," because they know no one is actually going to do that. Witholding deposits for really tenuous reasons. Not returning interest on deposits, etc.

My SO rented from a really awful management company who ran the slum for some out-of-towners. We knew there were 6 units in the house and they averaged rent around $600 per unit, so we figured $3600/month, over $400,000/year on rent. Even with taxes, they are pulling in a pretty penny. Their solution to a dead animal in the wall: dump a $5 box on mothballs in on it. Their solution to a flood caused by an upstairs renter leaving the bath on while she slept: a couple of fans, then claims the black stuff growing under the plaster wasn't mold but "dirt." Terrible, terrible place. My father knew the place from the 60's... he said he hadn't changed a bit, down to the flooring in the kitchen. Placed needed gutting 30 years ago, and dead animals and floods haven't improved it.

On the flip side, I rented from a landlord who kept all of hi property immaculate, and if there was a problem, he was right on top of it, fixed within 24 hours. Very comfortable, clean, and reasonably priced. I cannot see how people like that would be damaged by inspections. If you are following the rules, you have nothing to worry about. Isn't that how the law works?

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

did you know there was a 3.1 earthquake about 36 miles north of here yesterday people? the world is coming to an end.... well at least for tonight. Night all have fun.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Hawk. Your tidbits have helped me put together a puzzle I've been pondering for several months.

jafs 8 years, 5 months ago

I am completely in favor of this.

Having rented in Lawrence over the years, I know from personal experience that many landlords are not keeping their properties up as they should.

Tenants are legitimately afraid of what may happen if they complain as the only remedy currently offered is that of moving out if the landlord fails to comply.

This program should be structured so that any necessary repairs are made and the landlord made to pay for them.

Landlords are in business, and their decisions affect the safety and well-being of their tenants. Why shouldn't they have to abide by the (very basic) requirements of the city?

RockChalkJhk 8 years, 5 months ago

I believe this inspection plan is beneficial for the city of Lawrence because the idea is to keep the houses maintained in order to prevent demolition. Several years ago I rented an apartment in a beautiful house in downtown Lawrence. The owners kept it immaculate, but eventually they sold it and within months the new owners had let the property depreciate, not only in value, but in appearance. Lawrence is a special place because not all the houses look the same. They are distinct and original, but old and in need of attention. If you want to live in a sprawling microcosmic melancholy I suggest moving to Olathe.

I'm all for having an opinion, but why verbally attack someone you don't know? "Hawk," do you think it is cute to call Candice "Sweet Thing"? Have you ever heard of a little psychological thing called projection? Sounds like your perch at the river front is about to come down and your talons are getting shaky.

Candice is one of the best people on this planet. She has advocated to save not only historical houses in Lawrence, but people as well. I know because I am one of them.

"Hawk," you must have missed this LJWorld article, or else you are conveniently leaving it out: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2002/oct/15/ demolition_disappoints_neighborhood_advocates/

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