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Archive for Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rental code enforcement leaves much to be desired

Brian Markowitz lived in a Lawrence single-family rental home with more than three unrelated people. He admits that it was not in line with city code, but may be a common practice as some landlords try to work around the law. And the city has done little to enforce the ordnance.

Brian Markowitz lived in a Lawrence single-family rental home with more than three unrelated people. He admits that it was not in line with city code, but may be a common practice as some landlords try to work around the law. And the city has done little to enforce the ordnance.

September 26, 2010

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Brian Markowitz thought the e-mail was odd.

Rental regulations lacking enforcement

Some rental property regulations are not being properly enforced in Lawrence. Some properties located in single-family zoning are housing more unrelated roommates than allowed. Enlarge video

He and his five roommates at 1736 La. each received it from their landlord. Apparently, there was going to be a city inspection of the old two-story home: Could the six of you please not be around when the inspector comes by? Also, by the way, we’ll be removing those window air conditioners from the attic, where two of the roommates slept. But don’t worry, we’ll put them back later.

It all seemed a little odder when one of the roommates, who was late in leaving the house on inspection day, told Markowitz that workers for the landlord had brought in a large closet-like object and placed it in front of the stairway that led to the attic.

It was so odd that Markowitz brought the scenario up in the course of conversation with some of his friends. That’s when it started to become clear. His landlord was playing a game and hadn’t let him and his roommates in on the fun.

Since 2002, the city has had a code that says no more than three unrelated people can live in a home that is zoned for single family use. The home at 1736 La. is zoned single-family, and Markowitz and his five roommates aren’t related.

But to Markowitz, perhaps the oddest aspect of all this is what happened after he turned the information over to city inspectors. For nearly a year, he waited for his landlord to receive some sort of fine or punishment. It never came.

“This whole thing has made me feel like the renting practices in Lawrence are really shady business,” Markowitz said.

• • •

Let’s be clear here, Markowitz — now a Kansas University senior — didn’t exactly come forward out of some sense of renter’s remorse. He came forward because he was mad at his landlord, Serina Hearn and her company Rainbow Works LLC.

Markowitz and his roommates had become embroiled in a dispute with Hearn over a sizable security deposit that wasn’t returned upon their departure from the house in July 2009.

But unlike many angry tenants making accusations, Markowitz came armed with quite a bit of documentation. He had kept a copy of the e-mail from Hearn’s assistant, asking — on Hearn’s behalf — that he and his roommates not be present during the inspection and notifying them that the attic air conditioning units would be temporarily removed.

He also had a copy of the lease, signed by all six tenants, requiring that they pay with a single check of $2,850 per month. And Markowitz’s father — a Johnson County attorney — had thought to get sworn affidavits from five of the six tenants (one already had moved out of the area) swearing that they had lived together in the home and had seen activity that suggested Hearn was trying to hide an over-occupancy issue from the city.

In October 2009, Markowitz’s father provided copies of all those documents to city inspectors. Last week, he also provided copies to the Journal-World.

In essence, he gave the city what it has long said it has been lacking in these type of a cases. Since the code took effect in 2002, it is believed the city has never collected a fine from a landlord for violating the provision, said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning and development services. (Fines can be as high as $500, though the court has broad discretion in setting fines.) Only one case has ever been taken to trial in Municipal Court, and the city lost it.

City leaders have said the code is tough to enforce because finding solid proof of over-occupancy is difficult. They frequently point out that counting cars in a driveway is not enough to win a case. They’ve said previously that documents like a lease or a tenant agreeing to testify is needed.

Markowitz said he told inspectors that he was ready to testify that he had lived in the house with five other tenants.

“I told them I would help however I needed to help,” Markowitz said.

But the city decided not to take the case to court.

Brian Jimenez, codes enforcement supervisor for the city, said a key factor in the decision was that by the time Markowitz stepped forward, he and his roommates already had moved out of the house. A violation was not currently occurring.

The information, though, did cause the city to notify Hearn of what Jimenez believes she already knew: No more than three unrelated people are allowed to live in the home.

“We’ve educated this landlord many times on what the codes are,” Jimenez said.

But the city, when contacted by the Journal-World last week, said it is now looking into the situation again. After receiving the information from Markowitz in late 2009, the city received a complaint that more than three people were once again living in the home. (It currently is vacant because it is being renovated.)

“We’re definitely looking at this case in a different light,” said Jimenez, who said the city still has the ability to prosecute the alleged 2009 violations.

• • •

Serina Hearn has a real enthusiasm for old homes. She’s eager to show before and after photos of homes that she and her husband, Tony Backus, have restored. Hardwood floors reclaimed. Dirty plaster and lath made clean. Once-painted bannisters returned to their original glory. Hearn — who owns multiple properties in the center of Lawrence — points out that she is saving old homes when others are just fretting about demolition by neglect.

Hearn also has an enthusiasm for history. She has spent hours upon hours reviewing old city maps and pre-1950s Lawrence phone directories. She has highlighted lines on copied phone book pages that detail how long 1736 La. has had multiple phone lines. That’s evidence of the home being something other than a traditional single-family home even back in the 1940s, she says. That’s why the house has two kitchens.

What Hearn doesn’t have much enthusiasm for is waiting on the city.

Hearn does not dispute that six people were living in the home as Markowitz alleges. (She declined to address the other allegations that she took actions to hide the fact from the city.) She also does not dispute that the zoning of the house is single-family.

But she contends that her research proves the rental home should not be subject to the no-more-than-three-unrelated code. In essence, it should have grandfathered-status because its two kitchens have made it a duplex in a single-family zoning district.

The city has not adopted that position. There’s a process for having a home declared a legal, nonconforming use, and Hearn has not gone through it, planning director McCullough said. Hearn agrees that the city hasn’t given the home grandfathered status, but based on past projects she wasn’t entirely sure the project needed to go through a formal process.

“All I know is I’m working very hard right now to bring these facts to the attention of the city,” Hearn said.

But as the conversation goes on and grows more emotional, Hearn does share more. The economy has created financial hardships for her business, and it is clear that she and Backus have philosophical differences with the city code.

“On the one hand, I totally agree with a community’s right to regulate itself,” Backus said. “But on the other hand, it seems constitutionally people would have a right to live together if they aren’t causing any problems.”

And Hearn said she’s not convinced the community understands some of the unintended consequences of the city code. There are lots of large, old homes in single-family neighborhoods. Many need significant work. Sometimes landlords are the only ones who can afford to take a major restoration project on. She asks, Is watching the homes fall to the ground a better option?

“In the end, the city gets its money out of the property values from these houses that they tax,” Hearn said. “Right now, we’re painting that house and we’re continuing to fix it up.

“My question to you is what does the neighborhood prefer? And does Mr. Markowitz give a (expletive) about Lawrence and its economic hardship and what is happening to these houses, or does he just want his revenge?”

• • •

As for what the neighbors prefer, several said they would like to see changes at City Hall.

“I just wish the city had more tools, and more of a willingness to enforce the code,” said Tom Harper, a Lawrence real estate agent and member of Centennial Neighborhood Association.

The city department responsible for code enforcement is down two inspectors from past levels. Neighbors have noticed.

“Brian (Jimenez) doesn’t have the staff to enforce this,” said Betty Alderson, a Centennial neighborhood resident who pushed for the code’s adoption in 2002. “No new taxes. You’ve heard that over and over out of City Hall.”

But there’s also a philosophical issue pending at City Hall. McCullough said the city’s philosophy on code matters has been to focus more on obtaining compliance rather than writing tickets. It hasn’t been the department’s position to use fines as a way to punish a person into changing their behavior, he said.

That philosophy, though, may get another look. McCullough said his office is currently compiling data on the number of repeat offenders that inspectors deal with on this code and others related to student housing issues. If the data show high rates of repeat offenders, his department may recommend changes to the code related to stiffer penalties and new enforcement options for habitual offenders.

Neighbors hope it is a discussion that reaches all the way to the City Commission.

“I’m glad we have the ordinance,” Alderson said. “I just wish we would change the attitude on how it is enforced.”

Comments

not_holroyd 3 years, 6 months ago

Alceste, satire is a great literary device, except when it really isn't satire.

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

Nah, eotw33....it's actually pretty easy...and I laugh all the way to bank each and every month. I really enjoy, especially, the rental season time of year.....HUGE cash flow at that time. I'm able to contribute to Sam's campaign with some of that money. It's been working great. By the way....I believe you mean "you're"....not "your". You see, "you're" is what is referred to as a contraction? They teaching that in the schools these days?

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eotw33 3 years, 6 months ago

it must be really hard for alceste to fit that huge head up so many peoples behinds. FYI I have ALWAYS gotten back my deposit. Id like to know what company your with and I'm sure everyone else would too. Sounds like first management but there is so many bad ones its hard to tell. My advice is never rent a house or an apartment in Lawrence that is owned locally. I've had good luck with companies out of texas that own here

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Carol Bowen 3 years, 6 months ago

Just a thought. Why doesn't KU contract rental units on campus. It would be an expansion that would actually bring money in.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

Nah, landlords , the astute ones don[t want johnson county brats, nor st. louis brats, nor minestota and chicago. for some reason the parents never send the cleaning lady along. they have a reputation for trashing apartments. never rent to children of lawyers either or school of social welfare..

the best bet yet is still western kansas before they become tainted in Lawrence with tattoos, piercings and same sex marriages. just ask parents and townsfolk west of Salina. They do't like Lawrence.

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Boston_Corbett 3 years, 6 months ago

Glad all these Oread landlords can meet up on the forum here.

And I am guessing that all tenants with the last name Markowitz will be getting their damage deposits back this year.

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

I do not understand why my post was removed. I don't know of any of the usage agreement I violated. That post provided names of people who, like the landlord in the article, own properties; rent them out; and are also frequently quoted in the Lawrence Journal World. Those are public people who serve on City appointtee boards; have been very vocal all over town about this matter, that issue, etc., etc., etc.....and then get people to to make posts?

I identifed one poster above who just joined today to take a shot at the property owner which this news article was all about and everything else in my post was FACT. Why was it taken down? Are all posters equal...but some posters are more equal than other posters?

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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KUisgreat 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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not_holroyd 3 years, 6 months ago

All these comments from the apartment owners speak volumes.

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none2 3 years, 6 months ago

These comments seem so fanatical. Why don't people judge tenants and landlords individually instead of these mass generalizations?

I've been on both sides of the coin. I have seen horrible tenants and heard horrible stories. One landlord had his tenants rip out all the coper water piping before they left so that they could make money. Some friends shoveled out layers of trash from an apartment that was piled high in filth from a renter. I also remember living in a fraternity (they rented it out) one summer and wondered why the city never made them clean up the place.

I don't know why the city is in the rental inspection business. Why not also inspect owner occupied to make sure their children are safe too? Most of these things problems can be avoided by using common sense. Landlords need to investigate prospective renters -- references. Landlords/renters need to go over the condition of the house/apartment at the time of the contract. Landlords/renters need to go over who's responsible for what. The comment about the landlord mowing the lawn or paying the water bill -- those are not set in stone. Some rentals do NOT include utilities, and not all rentals include lawn care. Discuss & write down responsibilities at the time of the lease.

I don't know why so many love lots of laws. For instance, if 4 people want to live together, what is the fuss? Four nuns, 2 couples, 4 elderly people helping each other. So what? If they are clean, quite, and respectful should it matter? I admit that you have to consider car traffic. However, I had a neighbor with 4 teens. There were 6 cars. Would the problem be any less if they had been unrelated. This idea that a neighborhood must have families also seems rather biased. Do you make laws to kick out couples once their kids have grown? Neighborhoods change, you cannot "bronze" them to keep them static. Plus, as someone pointed out, everybody wants bigger bedrooms for king size beds, bigger living rooms for personal theaters or such equipment, bigger kitchens for the latest and greatest gadgets, walk in closets for cloths/shoes pack rats, more bathrooms, etc. These small old homes will only attract younger people who have yet to get into that "keeping up with the Jones' mentality). They also may work out for the elderly who are trying to downsize and move closer to city amenities. (I think these older neighborhoods look nicer with the older homes then rows and rows of apartment complexes, condos, duplex/quadplex homes.)

If a landlord is bad, don't rent from that individual. No one landlord owns every single rental. If a tenant is noisy, call the police just like you would for an obnoxious, noisy home owner. I think we have more problems around her than whether we can have a bunch of laws for landlords and tenants. All these things do is make for bigger government which we cannot even afford at the level we have.

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3 years, 6 months ago

Business as usual in Lawrence. Create a new law and don't do anything to enforce it. They can always say we did our best, but we don't want to upset "fill in the blank group".

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Kontum1972 3 years, 6 months ago

WOW....problems last week at KU with greed...now its spilling over...to the slum-lords...jeez people how much money do you need? is city hall next..or the public works dept.?

isn't america great..?

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

not_holroyd....Not only do I help run the Oread Association via a perfectly legitmate election, I also am in the inner circle star chamber like group of geezers and geezerettes who run the World. We are more important than the Tri-Lateral Commission; The Skull and Bones Society; The IMF; The Federal Reserve; and let's not leave out our local Chamber of Conmen; etc. combined. We also determine if KU basketball is going to remain in Lawrence and we also determine if they have winning seasons or not. Also, we have made a ton of money renting portta potties out by OUR stadium. It's ours....although we do allow guests.

I presently have Mark Mangino on hold so that I could attend to your suggestion and need to get back with him to see how much the big guy is going to charge me to housesit so I can live over where the good people are....Thanks for noticing my power....

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not_holroyd 3 years, 6 months ago

Isn't it interesting that a young man who gets screwed out of a deposit is seen as the problem by some here.

I only assume these people are other landlords/slumlords.

We already know oneeyed_Wilbur is one of these....and he now helps run the Oread association with his landlord buddies. It sounds like Alceste is another one of these people. Jesus, when they start waxing philosophical about Ling properties, you know how their brains are wired....

If anyone else is screwed out of $600, people get angry. Isn't it interesting that when a student from Johnson County is screwed out of $600, the landlords blame the students, the university, the city, the "Johnson County" parents, the parents profession....they are whiney.... they are the children of hippies, whatever that means.

And the people like Serina Hearn continue to line their pockets by openly violating the laws.

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

I think they'e a TON of crummy owner occupied dwellings in Centennial, not to mention Old West Lawrence, Oread, and East Lawrence (but it's cool in East Lawrence....they like 'em like that).

The bottom line is that Lawrence, Kansas is no longer the Lawrence, Kansas of yesteryear. Our downtown is a buffoon's paradise; like it or not, Lawrence expaned to the West and is essentially East Topeka at this point and him that has gets.

How on earth can people in Centennial and Oread NOT understand that they are the victims of the University of Kansas which, just like Lawrence is NOT the kind and friendly esteemed institution of higher education it once was: It's a giant industry padded with fluff jobs and rank cronyism that MANY of the complainers answer to and suckle from.....It's not the people who are rehabbing these old school constructed homes. These complainers cannot have it both ways....and they significantly contributed to the problem by wanting a "boutiqueville" in downtown...as well as bar central. As the same Daddy who allowed me to live in his attic and risk getting sucked into the 15 story all house fan he had up there noted to me shortly after graduating from KU noted: "Get the HELL out of that hick college town, child! You will regret it if you do not....". My Gawd....the man knew what he was talking about....

Oh yeah, where is the line to get the free $45, 000.00 SUV? There are so many of those TRUCKS (and that's all they really are....disguised pickemup trucks....) in Lawrence that eat up parking; eat up the streets, blah, blah, blah. We need us an ordinance that bans 'em.....

The time to "fix" the core inner city of Lawrence is just about gone and so, look elsewhere to reside is the future.

I have to go now. I'm putting in my calls to Mark Mangino to find out if I can house sit over where the REAL citizens of Lawrence live.....

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tanaumaga 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

When houses have a for sale sign, but the d*&^m place or shut up. Then do with it what you want. For those people in Centennial who have aged, they will sell their house when their demise comes, well lthe heirs will sell to whomever.

I have never seen such a bunch of whiners as are in Lawrence. Never happy. If you are old and don't like where you live, then move. It happens each and every day. Affordable housing in Lawrence translates to FREE housing.

No family nowdays wants a one car rancher in Centennial that even the bedrooms are not big enough to put a king size bed in.

The spacious homes in Centennial are occupied by a bunch of old geezers and old hens who can't bear children anymore and just want to whine.

Get a life, get out and enjoy the few years left. I really wonder if any of the folks in Centennial have fun. They sure can't do it at the Senior Center, it is nothing more than an old jail converted, barely !

Get that high school out of Centennial as well. The past bond issues did more to wreck Centennial that help it. Lawrence High would be better served had it been a Junior High and Centennial Grade school kept open. Cordley should have been closed. It is a dump of a building and a waste of money to maintain.

Centennial's future lies in the hands of KU, It is nothing more than future parking lots and rightfully so.

Don't fret Centennial. soon those expensive duplexes at Brandon Woods will be rented to whomever one can find. You see, the depression era folks who saved money , that clientele is just about extinct.

So, if you are in Centennial and want peace and quiet , bail out now and get a duplex at Brandon Woods before it too is not nice to live at.

Quite frankly, there are not any really nice neighborhoods in Lawrence. A few streets of this and that, but more that. Lawrence never had a JC Nichols develop and plan a neighborhood. Lawrence had a few jackleg builders throw up some houses here and there and call it quits atter they made the proverbial $10 thousand bucks on each one. The same still holds true.

Maybe it is time for someone to start turning in each and every "owner occupied" house in Centennial that is in violation of codes within the city blight code. They got some crappy owner occupied houses in Centennial. What you think Alceste?

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budtugly 3 years, 6 months ago

I live next to an across the street from houses breaking this law. I pick up trash out of the street and my yard about every Sunday morning. Last night a car blocked my driveway again so I couldn't get out. I run an air machine at night to drown out the noise. I bet money none of these landlords lives next to one of there rentals. I will be moving after living here for 23 years. Its total Bull$h&t that a homeowner has to tolerate in this town so some landlords can get fat.

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

oneeye_wilbur:

You underscore my point about the Ling's and, evidently, know Lawrence rental history matters during the "days of rage" here in Lawrence.

Ling ALWAYS had a first class piece of property for rent the first time around; I know...I lived in one and watched it turned into a slum by those that lived there....truth be told...they WANTED it to be slum...made them feel like they were more better "street people" irrespective of the fact that whenever they got busted they called Mommy and Daddy for bail and mouthpiece money!.....however, after spending tons of money to refurbish these properties, only to have them full on wrecked by the irresponsible "peace and a whole lotta of love" crew of the time, concluded it was just stupid to continue to rehab and rehab and rehab.

The "CIA HOUSE"....now called Sunflower House has been "adopted" by a certain state of Kansas elected official who resides here in Lawrence and prefers to view herself as a potentate and sage relative to rental properties, although SHE never really has solutions...only regulatory constrictions which inhibit progress. Go over to "Sunflower House" and have a look see.....Just as Ling discovered, soon it will be discovered that the Sunflower House shall always be the "CIA House" and will be able to do no better.

Should "CIA House" be regulated into oblivion or should "CIA House" be permitted to continue with a diverse manner of "being" as well as a diverse experience for those who choose to live there? Lot more unrelated people living together in that joint.....Who is the landlord of that joint? It ain't a SPIKE LEE JOINT....

So amusing how Lawrence, Kansas busy bodies want to dictate to any and all THE way of being......

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buttholeman 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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irvan moore 3 years, 6 months ago

i guess i don't care if a few unrelated people live in a house but i do want them to be good neighbors and would like to see off street parking required for each resident. snow removal here is a joke, they need to get the cars off the streets and tow them if not moved so we can have safe clean streets.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Moderate, the same applies to those who live in structures that are supposedly being used for single family by families. and they too indeed are blighted.! What about turning them in? That 's a good thing.

This was not an issue in Lawrence after the Second World War, where most every structure in Lawrence had some kind of rental in it. Professors were renting rooms as they barely made enough to live on. Now the professors OWN separate rental properties and have moved up the ladder financially, big time financially! Former womens bbball coach is or at least has been a landlord. Check that place out. It was owned even by a fomer coach and had a duplex attached to it.

What is residential really? Old couple live in a four bedroom house. In the sixties old person could rent out the rooms, now old couple CANNOT. They have too many unrelated.

Times are not hard enough yet, but when they come, we will see bunkbeds back, we will see the likes of those in Centennial who have an extra room or two wanting to rent it, well maybe not the current complainers as there next room is waiting at Brandon Woods and the next room at the local mortuaries.

What is with this, don't any of these people ever have fun? Lawrence is only a couple gates short of being locked up and being an insane asylum. Good things, those meds got thrown out, that may save a few souls for the next few months.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

There is a lesson here to think about. We have a zoning law that clarifies the use of the residential property category to reflect that it was never intended to extend to what amounts to a multi-family world. Great - but we apparently can or do not enforce that law. A reason given is it is hard to prove the violation. Why have the law if we cannot enforce it or do so episodically. I wonder just how many other laws we have hereabouts that sound good but are unenforced or unenforceable? Responsible people are limited and irresponsible people are rewarded. What was the argument from the violator – ah yes, we are maintaining our property so we should not have to follow the law??? Wish I could use that argument. No wonder "Government" gets a bad name with some people.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

Charge sales tax on all rentals. KU professors who go on sabbatical are supposed to register their homes if in single family. Some have not. Time to turn them in! They bad people, they professors and think they are better. Even the former women's basketballcoach is no example of a good landlord or property owner.

Nothing has changed in Lawrence since even a hundred years ago. The city had professional pickpockets. REad about it in today's J/W hundred years ago.

All this concern about rentals has been ongoing for well over 30 years now. The town has homeless people, hordes of them going to be without shelter this winter and here the city wants to create more homeless people after evicting them from shelter. Like it or not, Seriena provides shelter.

There are owners of pretty good size apartment complexes, that if the fire marshall saw the amount of paint and flammables stored in boiler room,s the places could be shut down. But the marshall will never get into the place. Even the state fire marshall has no jurisdiction over Lawrence.

So move forward, charge a 1% sales tax on all rentals. This is all about money anyway. How many people can be shoved out and into empty apartments, new ones.

This is a job security program for Jimenez's office as well. The more regulations, the more the job is justified. That's all it is.

What does one's insurance company say about properties in question? That is usually the driving factor. Insurance is not that easy to get most of the time. Companies do their own inspections and often the owner is not aware. Kinda like the neighborhood groups that send their covert members out to make lists of "bad" people and turn the list into the city.

Elmo wouldn't like some of these people and not only that Mr. Rodgers wouldn't want them on his block either. Lawrence is so full of busy bodies that it is a wonder they have time to take a c&*&%p.

How many neighbors from 3 miles away will show up to protest Lowes's. Now that Porta Potties have created an ordinance surely the Queen of Porta Potties will make an appearance to protest Lowes.

One has to wonder if the folks in McCullough's office ever have fun?

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jstthefacts 3 years, 6 months ago

“We’ve educated this landlord many times on what the codes are,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez just doesn't feel its been necessary to enforce them. Most landlords are aware of this and many take full advantage of this. Maybe when they write these laws, they could include those landlords that they don't apply.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

Read the J/W Hundred years ago column. Professional pickpockets still in town, only have elevated themselves to local governing bodies and state positions.

Nothing has changed. Like wise, nothing has changed with the renting business in Lawrence either.

Register all rentals, commercial, housing, land that is rented, and charge a sales tax of !%.

McCullough knows how this works. He know all about Maricopa County and even the pesky neighborhood group he had to deal with at one time in Maricopa county. He did assure them that the problems they perceived may not be exactly what the problem really was. I am sure he can find the quote from the AZ Republic.

So given that, maybe Centennial, Oread, LAN, all need to reassess their situation.

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chocolateplease 3 years, 6 months ago

The 2 separate issues seem to be 1.) enforcement question and 2.) wisdom of ordinance in the first place. On the first, isn't it obvious? Enforce the ordinance. Have penalties for those who choose to disregard it, or be prepared for them to continue to disregard said ordinances. Duh.

On the second issue, I think more than 3 unrelated people should be allowed to live in a rental, so long as the rental meets code for the number of inhabitants. I lived in many such rentals when I was in college, and it provided numerous benefits (saving money, learning to live with others, having a real home, etc.) Not everyone in college wants a party house. There are plenty of hard working, responsible, mature college students who just want a decent place to live.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 6 months ago

Dan Ling remodeled, repaired the houses he owned and the tenants tore the places up. End of that story. Shada Ling,his mother was a guru in real estate and was not a slumlord. Dan Ling was not either, he had the unfortunate experience of renting at a time when the tenants were trashing everything, fornicating and producing children who now are the ilk of Markovitz. That's the generation of hippie parents.

Now then, about registration. The city of lawrence needs to move ahead of the civil war some 100plus years and do this:

All rental properties, duplexes, apt complexes, commercial, single family(whatever the heck that is???) and and all property owned by KU endowment and rented, all public housing subsidized by the taxpayers at large, that being the Lawrence Housing Authority places,

All of these need to be registered with the County Appraiser's office. Everything. Show it on tax statements as rental. House, Replay Lounge, no matter what the use as long as it is a rental. Extend this into the county as well. But for starters , start with the City of Lawrence since this topic has been ongoing for over 30 years. Only the newbies don't know that.

Now then, after the registration:

Charge a 1% sales tax on all rentals. After all, the likes of Kennedy who posts on here and her colleagues/cohorts believe that rental is a business, so why not charge sales tax? Sales tax is even charged on renting a Porta Pottie.

Everything is charged a sales tax, the tenant will pay the increase for sure. So, a downtown business building that rents for $3,000 a month, will pay a $30 month sales tax. What business person downtown or owner would complain about that. AFter all they all get Free parking which has been paid for by taxpayers and subsidized.

So, All rentals register. All rentals pay 1% sales tax. Inspection is only if owner or tenant request such to take place.

This is all about money, so why not go big time and put Lawrence in the 21st century.

Mr. McCullough know sabout how this is done, since he came from Maricopa County.

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Love_Honesty 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

What has, MacHeath?

Do you know what a "Ling property" was?!

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MacHeath 3 years, 6 months ago

oh yeah, I forgot. Don't forget to carp about what an opportunistic swine another developers are for tearing down an old "historical" home, and putting up a four-plex. It really makes you look like the guy in the white hat. This has been going on for more than 3 decades.

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MacHeath 3 years, 6 months ago

Lemme see... Buy an old home in the student ghetto. Charge high rents to more folks then the law allows. Pay taxes on a single-dwelling home. Do no repairs while you have renters. Pocket the high security deposit. Refurbish the house. Sell the house at a huge profit to some bleeding heart. Expect a pat on the back for helping to save historical Lawrence. Laugh all the way to the bank. One always has the option to keep pocketing the money, and not do a damned thing to the house. You may want a new Mercedes this year.. That is pretty much how it works, correct?

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beaujackson 3 years, 6 months ago

Because the city commission has refused to require the city to actually enforce the rental ordnance, they might consider saving taxpayers money by eliminating entire "enforcement" department.

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been_there 3 years, 6 months ago

Now, please, provide the addresses of those houses which are similar to the one in question and which are "slums"...

339 Elm and any other houses he owns. Only he chops them up to get the most money he can. The city is well aquainted with the dangerous living conditions but say their hands are tied.

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honestone 3 years, 6 months ago

Yeah...yeah Slumlord Yeah..yeah...entitled JoCo child Isn't it funny that this kid was OK with everything until AFTER the fact. While him and his buddies lived close to campus and threw their partys having more then three was cool. Did this child KNOW about the rule prior to moving in...yeah...he knew but didn't care. Then he ran to lawyer daddy AFTER they moved out. The children probably trashed the house and then didn't understand when the slumlord didn't give them all of their money back for the damage that they did. There are a lot of bad landlords but there are an awful lot of very bad tenants too. It isn't just a one way street.

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

cont.:

The ordinance is unenforceable in the final analysis...particularly when there are plenty of unrelated people who CHOOSE to live together and thumb their tenant paying noses at the City: They get the MANY advantages of living in a fine, older structure that has real wood; real walls; real character; real stairs; etc., etc., etc.

Now, please, provide the addresses of those houses which are similar to the one in question and which are "slums"....be sure and include the owner occupied houses as well that don't meet City code. We need to get them poor people out of those houses and into the homeless shelter! Since they're so stupid to own property they cannot keep up, they shouldn't be owning diddly. It is for their own good that the city inspectors need to "help them" understand their limitations and move on.

Concluding, " If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

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Alceste 3 years, 6 months ago

All this animus about "slum lords", and yet not one single property has been identifed by the posting group!! VERY funny!! Put up or shut up seems to apply here. A type of "Class envy" is what this is all about on this "message board" because the vast majority posting don't own a thing, let alone a home. I think the house Lew Perkins owns and the house Mark Magino own are too opulent and need to be torn down! Why? I want one, sorta, like 'em~!~ Heck, that entire area needs to be razed because I don't have the ducats to buy one! It's their fault, too, for owning them and daring to rub it in my face. Terrible. Simply terrible.

When I was a little kid, I was THRILLED I was finally allowed to use the attic as MY bedroom. I guess my old man figured if I got sucked into the whole house fan (this was like BEFORE a/c was the "norm and expectation"), it was on me. Later, I was thrilled to make the basement MY bedroom even though I was forced to share it with my darn mother and her stupid washing machine and drier; both had a lot of light and air and even though our large home had 1.5 baths with a family of 7, everything seemed to work out just fine. I fondly remember standing on a stool to squat in the GIANT sink that was a part of the washing machine system when I had to get up at night.....No trucking up to the REAL bathroom for me! That was in a large two story 5 bedroom house off of Wornal Road and the Loose Park area in KCMO. I guess for people like ckennedy, there has to be a sign on the wall somewhere so she'll have a clue what a bedroom is because it seems HER idea of what a bedroom is the ONLY idea of what a bedroom is!

I suppose what these dopes want is to have the old houses torn down and tri-plexes with chalk board walls and 25¢ per square yard carpeting put in their place? Excellent. Chalk one off for the "preservationists". NOT. I've been in this town for well over 50 years and I want to be able to see these houses. I don't care how many people live in 'em....just as long as they act right; and if they don't...act right....they're gonna hear about pronto.

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been_there 3 years, 6 months ago

What needs to be changed is the way complaints of unsafe living conditions and code violations by tenants in houses not in single family zones. They chop a house up, put a sink in a closet for a kitchen, put in bathrooms, and furnaces not up to code, floors and ceilings falling in. When a tenant complains, the city inspects and gives the landlord 30 days to correct problems. He tells tenant that work cannot be done while they are living there and he will let them break the lease and return that months rent and deposit if they move. They move, but since they no longer live there the case is closed and the landlord is free to rent it out as is since the city cannot do anything unless current tenant complains. Great system, isn't it.

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bewarecrooks 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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laika 3 years, 6 months ago

From previous experience, I can tell you that if you ever make the mistake of renting from Rainbow Works, never expect to see that security deposit back without a lawsuit. Of course, they´ll probably lose, like they have several times in the past couple of years. Just go to the Douglas County Court Clerk´s Office and look up Rainbow Works LLC, you´ll see what I mean.

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northtown 3 years, 6 months ago

Why does the city not enforce codes? What do the new housing inspectors do these days?Not many new homes buidlt at this time. Have them do something as this,Have them work instead of just set and eat!!! Poor city enforcement of laws-probaly some of the leaders are the slum lords-Money talks and you know what walks!!! Poor little Kansas town-lots of problems and no answers!!!

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fly_on_wall 3 years, 6 months ago

I think the point and the point in the ordinance is that families should be living in family zoning. Families can't rent these houses at current prices and everyone knows it. So the price goes down to comply with zoning laws and or the house goes up for sale. So families can buy it. The neighbor hoods are designed for families: parks, schools, churches, it is a tax burden on the public to permit improper use of neighbor hoods, because the public paid for it already. Affordable housing is impossible to find and a big reason is because of these rule breakers. Anyone else remember the family of 7 living at a motel for 800 bucks a month and these kids each paid 500 bucks to live in a house. This is a story I would like to see expanded on.

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christy kennedy 3 years, 6 months ago

"We’ve educated this landlord many times on what the codes are,” Jimenez said.

Rental registration has been discussed around and around and around. It's done elsewhere and really, truly there's no excuse for it not being done here as well. A small fee per unit, a cost which could be passed on to tenants by land lords who can't tolerate the idea, could fund a simple, annual inspection. Issues that involve tenants' safety and city codes really should be addressed rather than endlessly discussed and then ignored. Fining slum lords would, one could hope, be impetus for improved maintenance and upkeep, as well as support for the inspection and enforcement efforts.

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2002 3 years, 6 months ago

Not landlords. Slumlords. This is one more example of how the City paves the way.

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Joe Hyde 3 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Hearnes asks rhetorically, "And does Mr. Markowitz give a (expletive) about Lawrence and its economic hardship and what is happening to these houses, or does he just want his revenge?”

Lawrence's economic hardship? Oh, please.

From just that one house with six renters (three of them illegals) she hauls in $34,200 per year. That's $136,800 over the course of their 4-year stay at KU if she operates the house illegally until all six graduate.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't take that kind of money to drive a few nails into loose boards, apply some latex caulk to interior cracks and crevices to improve pest control, and throw a fresh coat of paint on that crib every twenty years.

Illegal and/or rapacious renting practices give most college towns a bad stink, and you sure don't want to get downwind of Lawrence.

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JimmyJoeBob 3 years, 6 months ago

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

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Vinny1 3 years, 6 months ago

Of course the city won't do anything to these landlords. They pay so much in taxes for all the rental homes the city really doesn't want to enforce the rules. Its a bunch of garbage.

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homechanger 3 years, 6 months ago

What does jiminez actually do to earn a paycheck? Looks like nothing. Make a report to code enforcement and he does nothing. Another made up position for a local guy to get paid for nothing.

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melott 3 years, 6 months ago

Here's why: many of these land(slum)lords are members of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber sets city policy.

The City Commission has made this worse by making the "law" a limit of 3, not 2, supposedly so that people who need assistance can have a live-in helper. Then, they added a stipulation that you can (if you put in a "partition") add an extra person, again so people can have a live-in helper. I guess this is a live-in helper for the live-in helper. Anyway, so with a little plywood and paint, you can have 4 students in a single-family home, and not have any enforcement issues.

If the same 5 or 6 cars are parked by a house for months, it can't be used for enforcement because they might be "visiting".

It's the Golden Rule. Those who own and rent the houses have the gold, and they make the rules.

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been_there 3 years, 6 months ago

Personally think it should be 4 unrelated people so 2 couples can rent a house together.

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pinecreek 3 years, 6 months ago

If they've only taken one case to court (and lost that one), what exactly are they doing? What are the metrics that this department (and others) are measured with? Do they publish statistics on number of inspections and % of violations discovered? Number of complaints file, % investigated, % validated?

Don't know about you, but in my job we have very strict metric based measurements for performance--high performance justifies compensation increases, low performance leads to dismissals. Time for this group and the City as a whole to join the real world.

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been_there 3 years, 6 months ago

So why didn't he take the landlord to small claims court? I know people who have and got their money back? Heck his dad is a lawyer, he could go to regular court. Could it be that they did do the damages and maybe more? If they did, shame on his dad for trying to help him beat the system.

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justforfun 3 years, 6 months ago

Let’s be clear here, Markowitz — now a Kansas University senior — didn’t exactly come forward out of some sense of renter’s remorse.

Yep that's right, he's being a whinny little baby now.

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fools_gold_is_he 3 years, 6 months ago

These landlords pay too much for their properties with the belief they can endlessly carve out yet another bedroom and pack the students in, and still make a profit.

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Aaron McGrogor 3 years, 6 months ago

Honestly, in my opinion the code is sillly to begin with. First off, how convenient for Lawrence landlords (and I'm speaking of one in particular) that only 3 people can live in one place. Let's face it, the more people under one roof, the less there are to rent these new apartment complexes that have been built. Secondly,I can't imagine there are many "single families" that are going to rent a $3000 house on 17th and Louisiana. So the tenants are most likely going to be college students. That's approximately $1000 a month per person and not including utilities. Now I don't know about you, but I don't know any KU students who can pay that much rent a month. So realistically, the landlord pretty much has to rent to 6 people to be able to rent at all. This is of course assuming that $3000 is a fair and accurate measure of the worth of the house. Also, indeed the students were being immature by tattle taking on their landlord for not returning their deposit, but the deposit must have been almost $3000. That's quite the chunk of change. I hope those kids legitimately didn't deserve the deposit back and weren't just screwed out of it.

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fools_gold_is_he 3 years, 6 months ago

I am pretty sure that this lady is one of those landlords who took over the Oread Neighborhood Association last year forcing out the actual residents of the neighborhood.

No wonder. These landlords are beyond belief. They know the rules about how many people can live in a house very well, and continue to openly violate it, and lie to the city about it. And -now- we learn the city totally ignores the enforcement anyhow when they are literally "given the goods" on the violations.

Brian Jimenez ought to have his fanny slapped hard, as well as the City Hall management that allows this situation....where Brian obviously does anything to avoid enforcing the rules against the landlords. It is inexcusable.

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been_there 3 years, 6 months ago

Is there an ordinance against 10 to 12 people partying on a slanted porch roof with no rail and windows for access? The landlord at 1800 Louisianna really needs to pay attention to what his tenants are doing. 5 lawnchairs on the roof should be a clue. I'm sure parents will sue if one of those kids falls off. Drinking highly possible.

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kernal 3 years, 6 months ago

KU does an orientation every year for incoming freshmen. I've always thought they should include a copy of the KS Landlord Tenant Act as part of that package.

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irvan moore 3 years, 6 months ago

It seems interesting that the article only addresses the issue of unrelated people in a house and singles out these landlords to target when houses that are unfit to live in are left uninspected. The city has to be aware of these unsafe, unsanitary apartment houses owned by notorious slumlords. where's the article on these houses and owners?

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Iam Tired 3 years, 6 months ago

"It was so odd that Markowitz brought the scenario up in the course of conversation with some of his friends. That’s when it started to become clear. His landlord was playing a game and hadn’t let him and his roommates in on the fun." Yet, they continued to live there.

What was the term used to convict Carrie Neighbors? Deliberately ignorant?

It seems that the code is significantly lacking in providing no consequences for the deliberate violation of the ordinance by renters.

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CLARKKENT 3 years, 6 months ago

WHILE IT IS A LAW, IT SHOULD BE ENFORCED. THE RENTERS SHOULD KNOW THE LAW ALSO. MAYBE THEY SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE FINE . IT WOULD MAKE IT EASIER TO ENFORCE.

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Keith Richards 3 years, 6 months ago

"McCullough said the city’s philosophy on code matters has been to focus more on obtaining compliance rather than writing tickets."

If the police department followed this philosphy we would be short millions of dollars....

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HedleyLamarrr 3 years, 6 months ago

spoiled kids strong arming their landlord in pseudo extortion. check lawyer. check greedy landlord trying to make extra $ off tenants via security deposit, skirting laws, willing to lie, cheat and steal. check ineffective local government. check

trying to figure out if anyone in this story is remotely sympathetic.

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Amy Heeter 3 years, 6 months ago

They might want to go a step further and deal with the slumlords that don't repair properties too. I can't believe some of the places people are living.

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