Letters to the Editor

Rental codes

October 7, 2010


To the editor:

The recent article about a rental code violation regarding unrelated people living together drew my interest. We have had problems with rental property next to us. The city of Lawrence recently condemned the property for human habitation because of many code violations.

Over many years, the early 1900s home has become neglected, depreciated, unsightly and a frustration. We have endured an owner that is indifferent to our concerns and disinterested in how it affects the value of our home, tenants that are both hostile and inhospitable, trash, weeds, rodents, etc.

Why was this property not dealt with earlier by the city? We made several calls. What are the regulations regarding and governing how rentals are to be brought into compliance and be a vital part of our community? What are the timelines that rental owners must meet to ensure timely compliance to code violations? Do we as homeowners and neighbors have rights, and what are they?

I think all rental property should have to meet code regulations as set forth by the city, regardless of the age of the property! Rentals should represent a value, not an eyesore to the neighborhood and community in which they exist.

It is my hope that the city will work together to improve rental deficiencies so we may all enjoy our community, living in a peaceful, safer, more cohesive community.

Charlene Hodge,



Liberty_One 7 years, 8 months ago

It's a sad commentary about our country that people think like this now. This is what this letter boils down to: I want the government to force someone to pay for something I want. The house next door is ugly and old, force them to fix it up to my standards or else! Notice the thought of buying the property and fixing it up never crossed the LTE writer's mind....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

"Notice the thought of buying the property and fixing it up never crossed the LTE writer's mind...."

There is no way of knowing this from the letter. You're just throwing up a straw man.

But since you know so much, here's a couple questions-- Is the property for sale? Does the owner want to sell it for a reasonable price? Can these people afford to purchase it? Do they have to go into the rental business just to make sure that the house next door doesn't destroy their ability to use their property in peace and quiet?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe she should just start hanging out in front of the landlord's house and harassing him full time (letting loose with her imagination on what that would entail.) At least that wouldn't involve the evil government.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

She says that the owner of the house is "indifferent to our concerns and disinterested in how it affects the value of our home." Although it doesn't say directly, to me that suggests that she has tried approaching the owner directly and didn't meet with much success.

I don't buy the "government=immoral" line of reasoning, but supposing for the sake of argument that it's valid, isn't a neighbor deliberately blowing off the valid concerns of another neighbor immoral too? Is it okay for the landlord to do whatever he wants even if it has a negative effect on the lives of the neighbors because he's not involving government, but it's not okay for the neighbors to try to remedy that situation simply because their reasonable options for remedying it necessarily involve government?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

For LO, it's all about property rights-- but only of the landlord, not the neighbor.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

That doesn't really answer my question, Liberty.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

What about the very real possibility that the neighbor's property will decline in value and be harder to sell?

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Your argument that the government should institute a zero-emissions policy (and presumably enforce it) for pollution flies in the face of your arguments for liberty.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

I would argue that there's a very real possibility that the property of the owner is being infringed upon in the form of lowered property values. Depending on how bad the neighbors actually are I think it's also possible that life and liberty are being infringed upon. So I wouldn't say necessarily that force is not an option, I would say that the real question is what degree of force is justified by the infringement. Without knowing the specifics of this case I can' t say, but I don't think it's out of the question that forcing a lanlord to, say, mow the lawn and clean the yard is unjustified.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

If fixing the roof or windows means that the neighbor can sell their home more easily and for more money, it certainly does affect their property.

That's the basic problem with your notion of property rights - it sort of assumes we all live in some sort of isolated bubble, which is simply not the case.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Should I start to call you names as well, Liberty?

I can certainly do that.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

"You don't have a right to the highest possible price you can get for your property. "

How do you figure? I was under the impression that the basis of capitalism is that each party does, in fact, have the right to demand the highest possible price for whatever good or service that is being offered. If what you are able to demand in exchange for your house is affected by factors that are out of your control, but directly under someone else's, and they're not doing anything about those factors for no good reason then why should they be able to get away with that?

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

There's a differene between having the value of something drop because of new technology and having the value of something drop due to someone else's carelessness. You seem to be taking the slippery slope approach and saying that even if government intervention is reasonable in particular case, it's still bad because it will lead to government intervention in every single other situation where government could possible intervene. I don't see that happening. I also don't see why it's reasonable to say that if a person carelessly chooses to do (or in this case not do) something that has a negative effect on another person then the second person shouldn't be given any recourse besides politely asking them to please stop (likely not effective) and, in this case, buying the property (not realistic in most cases for several reasons). I'm not buying that the slippery slope exists, I do think there's such a thing as reasonable government intervention, and maybe that's where we're in disagreement.

I also realize that buying a home with the expectation that it will increase in value is always a gamble, but I see letting the responsible homeowner suffer from the consequences of the the irresponsible landlord's irresponsibleness as punishing the person who's making an effort. Why is that okay?

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Thank you.

Liberty maintains a very hard-line Libertarian line of thought.

It is entertaining, but insufficient - when he is confronted with that, he resorts to name-calling.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

And, I wasn't talking to you - I was responding to Madame X.

So stay out of our conversations if you have nothing substantive to say.


madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

A home for the mentally disabled might be considered undesirable by some (not me, incedently, I actually lived next to one and they were very nice neighbors) but the difference between that and this situation is that a mentally disabled person can't help being mentally disabled, whereas a slumlord can certainly help being a slumlord. I don't even think "poor" or "lazy" fit with this situation (or are especially undesirable, for that matter) either; it sounds more like this is a case where the slumlord in question is willfully refusing to consider reasonable requests from the neighbors that he keep up his property in the most basic way. It's a different category of "undesirable." And I've already said it, but I'll say again that as I see letting the responsible homeowner suffer from the consequences of the the irresponsible landlord's irresponsibleness as effectevely punishing the person who's making an effort.

I'm sorry, but with rights come responsibilities. And if a person makes the decision to exercise a right (in this case the right to do with one's property what one sees fit) in an irresponsible manner that causes harm to someone else then at that point I feel like it's appropriate to consider limiting that right. Empahsis on consider. And part of that consideration ought to be how much of a hardship will actually be imposed by whatever that person is being forced to do. Since in this case some of the complaints (like not mowing the yard, which is not difficult) would not present much hardship I don't see it as unreasonable that lawn-mowing be required. Other things, like actual repairs, have a higher potential for hardship so should be evaluated more carefully.

I'm sure you think I'm all "Yay for regulation!" but I"m not. Regulations of ergonomics of office furniture, if they do exist, sound pretty stupid to me. I'm trying to be realistic. And realistically, there are regulations out there that prevent harm and that came about because of a need for them, they're not all just arbitrary and to make you feel like your rights are being taken away. And I would rather live in a country where harm is prevented with common-sense regulation than have the right to make my own Valium and sell it on the street corner or sweet-talk someone into thinking I'm a lawyer and ruin their case or something.

Now go ahead call me a socialist. I don't think I am one, but I'm expecting it.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

You're clearly intelligent and articulate.

But you won't get anywhere with Liberty - he believes, among other things, that government regulations don't prevent harm and aren't intended to do so.

BorderRuffian 7 years, 8 months ago

Since Larryville ALREADY has enforceable codes regarding properties, I'd say it is MORE than reasonable to ask that the city apply the standards uniformly across the board. Nobody wants to put in the work necessary to keep their own property up to code and keep it beautiful, only to have a pigsty next door that is not up to code and detracts from the value and aesthetics of the neighborhood.

You also make the ludicrous assumption that the person complaining has the means to simply buy up the property in question, as well as the means to bring it into compliance. Not to mention the audacity to expect this person to take it upon themself to be responsible for maintaining their neighbor's property to city standards.

justforfun 7 years, 8 months ago

Exactly Liberty one! How about all the sh*t houses people own and live in? Not much mention about that either. Wow LTE sure have become a cry baby forum!!! Go over and offer to help clean up the yard Charlene!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

Ah, poor baby. I can understand now why you just let your properties go to hell, regardless of how it affects the neighbors.

Here's a suggestion. Let the neighbors know that unless they buy your property, (at a tidy profit to you, mind you) that you'll make it real 24/7 nuisance and eyesore. That'll show 'em.

xclusive85 7 years, 8 months ago

Wow, that was just a bunch of complaining about your tenants. If you didn't want to spend good money having to do things like replace the carpet because of oil stains, you should screen your applicants more thoroughly. You can decide who to rent to, so stop the sob story about having to spend a little money. Let's see, if you can make between 6-12K a year on a single property and you spend 2-3 a year on taxes and then another 500-2,000 on the house, then you make a profit.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

This goes both ways. Part of the reason I wanted to own a home (which I do now) is that there plenty of landlords in this town who don't care that, say, the furnace went out for five days in the middle of December.

If you don't like renting to section 8 then why are you doing it? It's not mandatory, is it?

Caesar_Augustus 7 years, 8 months ago

Darn, I thought this was going to be a post about redbox rental codes.

No free movies for me!

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 8 months ago

The problem with fixing up the house next to you is due to the "unrelated people" ordinance. For your neighbor to fix up his rental, he will never get a return on his investment because he can only rent it to 3 people. With 3 people renting, the most he can get in rent is $1200 a month (and that is if it is nice). That would mean the house would have to be worth about $140,000, after renovations. If it is needing a new roof, paint, interior work, etc..., there is no way the owners would ever get back that investment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

This assumes that it can only be rented to students. Families need houses, too, and they quite often have more than three people.

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 8 months ago

So if a family rents it, it still needs to be fixed up, which requires money and requires the landlord to bring the property to "Current Code". If it is an old house, this will require extensive work. It's cheaper for the landlord to leave it as is, and get half as much rent, than it is to update an old house to current code and get full rent.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

Not all of her concerns are expensive to fix. The landlord could be choosier about whom they rent to, and could keep the yard cleaned and mowed (and relatively vermin-free) at little to no cost.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

You can still ask for references, and turn them down if they don't check out. And if it's section-8, the government does regular inspections to make sure tenants aren't abusing the property while you get guaranteed rent.

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

I've rented in this town. Practically every landlord I've rented from has required an application, verification of employment, and the numbers of previous landlords for a reference about what kind of tennant I was. I don't know what they asked about, but I do know that at least one of them called. As a supervisor at a previous job I've had to verify employment for workers who had filled out applications for rental with different landlords. I'm sure you can't state in an ad that HUD need not apply, but surely you get a choice what applications you approve?

madameX 7 years, 8 months ago

Nice comeback. Way to rebut my arguments.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Looks like you should be choosing your tenants more carefully instead of blogging.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

It similarly amazes me how many landlords want to charge high rent for houses in terrible condition, and not live up to their end of the bargain.

beaujackson 7 years, 8 months ago

Home owners CARE about their property.

Renters do NOT.

Slumlords care about MONEY.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 8 months ago

Liberty One comments: "Their ability to use their property in peace in quiet has nothing to do with the house being ugly and old. As far as your other concerns, they are irrelevant. If she can't afford it or the owner won't sell, then too bad."

The selfishness and pig-headedness expressed in this statement is breathtaking.

Under the pretense of "individual liberty", a property owner's selfishness and lack of cooperation with neighbors causes a property to decay and a neighborhood to suffer as a result.

This sort of "me first at all costs" kind of thinking is what will eventually lead to the downfall and disintegration of society as we know it.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Of course.

Libertarian philosophy, in my opinion, often boils down to a sort of childish "You're not the boss of me" mentality.

pizzapete 7 years, 8 months ago

Liberty_ Dumb suggests the neighbor buy the condemned house? Yea, great idea. She isn't asking the gov. to fix it to her needs rather she wants the house meet the city's own standard for liveability. Apparently it wasn't just an ugly or dirty house, it was condemned for a reason. Sounds to me like it should have been condemned long ago. It's a sad commentary the neighbor has to remind the city to do their job to enforce the regulations they enacted.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 8 months ago

"No, she's asking that the government use threat of violence so she can get her way..."

Hyperbole now gives way to making stuff up.

Please copy and paste any link or text in the city code pertaining to this issue that authorizes the use of violence in enforcing these laws.

violence noun behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. (Law) the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

parrothead8 7 years, 8 months ago

You haven't proven that the city will use violence to force someone to live up to the city's codes.

Arguably, the landlord must have known what the city code required upon buying the property, so why would it not be his/her responsibility to live up to that code?

You can't argue that a person should be allowed to do whatever they want with their property at the expense of their neighbor's property. In a democratic society, the rights of the individual do not outweigh the rights of the majority.

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