Letters to the Editor

Housing neglect

June 19, 2008


To the editor:

The June 12 editorial, "Too little, too late'" defines the problem of "demolition by neglect'" but offers no solution. The cause of the neglect is the many slumlords that have been in operation since I was at Kansas University in the late '70s. The solution is to go after the current slumlords and demand minimum maintenance of their older, and often historic, properties - things like roof replacement, painting, guttering, foundation maintenance, etc. The city should refuse to register their property as a leasable home until they have met the standard and paid their delinquent taxes. Otherwise, we will continue to have examples like 1232 La., with no option other than demolition.

The good news is that many property investors and homeowners in the historic districts of Lawrence are making great progress in restoring their neighborhoods, one house at a time. On Louisiana Street from Sixth to 10th, there are four major renovations under way. On the 800 block of Ohio Street there are recent examples of appropriate "infill" housing. There have also been many recent restorations of homes in Oread. Many of these homes have been plucked from the hands of slumlords by citizens that care enough to invest in their community.

As I walk through Old West Lawrence and Oread, I believe it is in better shape today than it was 30 years ago. However, the city could and should do more to help those of us willing to invest our time and money restoring homes in Lawrence.

Dan Shriner,


jafs 10 years ago

The city's standards for rentals are extremely minimal - even according to folks at the city who do inspections.If we want better landlords/properties, it seems we must force them to take better care of their houses.We'd need to improve (ie. raise) standards for landlords, and offer tenants better options than calling the city to report their landlord (obviously creating an adversarial situation with someone you depend on), and better avenues than simply declaring a property "unrentable". Why not allow tenants or the city to do necessary repairs and recover the money from the landlord if they are not doing them?

Jackson 10 years ago

"Demolition by neglect" is rampant in most rental neighborhoods, including Centennial, Schwegler, and Cordley.These neighborhoods are mostly single-family zoned, however more than half of the houses are used for the "business" of student rentals. Talk about poor & innefective zoning! It's easy to tell an owner occupied house from a rental - just count the cars parked on the lawn or street, unkept yards, etc. - and, most have more than the legal limit of (3) tennants because of lax (or no) zonning enforcement.Might as well zone the entire town multifamily and make it legal.Most of central Lawrence is a slum in-the-making.

cato_the_elder 10 years ago

The slumlords in Lawrence have been at it since way before the late 70's, Dan. Go for it.

dandelion 10 years ago

If a landlord can't afford to keep up their investment, they should sell it to someone who can. They aren't very good business people if they don't figure in all the costs. It would be like a restaurant owner taking all the evening proceeds as their profit. How will they pay their employees and buy food for the next day?

igby 10 years ago

Dan, must not own one of these beast gobbling money pits of no end in sight as to everything thats in need of replacing.

OnlyTheOne 10 years ago

Igby do you realize those poor landlords rent those "beast gobbling money pits" for approximately $400 a bedroom! And a "dining room" or "sunporch" might qualify as a bedroom to them. I've lived in that area and have watched, year after year, new groups of renters coming in but not one bit of repair being done so please do not suggest these "landlords" are the losers in this deal!

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