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Archive for Sunday, October 21, 2012

Letter: Renter help

October 21, 2012

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To the editor:

Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI) staff was sorry to read the article Oct. 13 about the city condemning Court 26 Apartments, causing 13 renters to be evicted. The city had no choice once code enforcement officers determined the extent of neglect by the landlord. But renters always have a choice. Since 1972, HCCI has been counseling renters, landlords and property managers about their rights and responsibilities as defined by the Kansas Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Fair Housing law, and city code. HCCI’s Rental Housing Counseling service is free for both renters and landlords and is sponsored in part by grants to HCCI from the City of Lawrence, HUD, and private donations.

Extensive free information is available at www.hcci-ks.org. The primary complaint to HCCI by renters is that some landlords do not maintain property. Renters should take appropriate action when maintenance issues such as doors and windows that cannot be properly locked cause safety concerns or when health is jeopardized by water damage or inadequate heating. Appropriate action begins with appropriate communication between tenants and landlords.

HCCI counsels renters to check their written lease agreement first. When landlords use a lease, they have typically included clauses from Kansas law and should be held accountable for the safety of their units based on the law. Forms to address maintenance issues are available at no charge to renters on the HCCI website. A booklet titled Commonly Asked Questions by Tenants and Landlords is available free from HCCI.

Comments

buffalo63 2 years, 2 months ago

No, it was a way to get needed information out to the public.

Liberty275 2 years, 2 months ago

It's a little of both, don't you think?

Loretta James 2 years, 1 month ago

they need funds to get another place the bogus landlords already have their money.

tbaker 2 years, 2 months ago

Darn good information. Too bad the renters didn't avail themselves of it sooner and perhaps compell the landlord into holding up his end of the bargain.

I am curious though. Something doesn't make sense. Were I forced to live in a rental that was so poorly maintained it was merely waiting for a city code inspector to condemn it, I sure wouldn't be paying any rent. Why would someone pay rent if they could easily prove the landlord's failure to maintain the property was a breech of contract, assuming I actually had a lease in a dump like that.

You hear stories of apartments full of free loaders who won't pay their rent. The cost, time, and effort required to evict them one by one is cost prohibative, so the land lord just lets the place go to crap in an effort to drive the bums out.

I wonder what happened in this case? The story just says the landlord was negligent. It doesn't say the 13 renters were honest, rent-paying tenants. Were they?

Close the loop on this one LJW.

RaynRavyn 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Informed, that is not true. You can have LL served with a legal "Intent to withhold rent pending repairs" and not pay until they are made. Usually have to (or is better to, at least) be able to show amount of rent is being held in escrow, to prove you aren't just hiding behind that cause you can't afford your place. Then when repairs are made, pay the rent. But you certainly CAN withhold the rent!

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Do you have a source for that?

In my experience, tenants aren't supposed to withhold rent, even if landlords aren't living up to their end. I've been advised by lawyers that you should keep paying your rent, otherwise you won't have "clean hands" if it comes to a lawsuit.

Laura Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

I, too, would like a source for this for Kansas (every state is different). A tenant can give a landlord a 14/30 notice citing what they want fixed and, if it's not done in 14 days, they can move out in 30; they can't refuse to pay rent to force a landlord to fix anything.

Landlords aren't required to fix anything unless the City gets involved. Tenants always have the right to file complaints with the City.

headdoctor 2 years, 2 months ago

If a landlord is taking care of business it isn't that difficult to remove a problem tenant once the landlord realizes the tenant must go. Landlords problems are usually caused by having a soft head, soft heart, or lazy. They chose not to act until they are fed up, then end up doing something stupid that gives the tenants more grounds to stand on than they should have by violating the law. If an apartment building is full of non paying or caustic tenants it is because the landlord rented to them without screening them and or let them stay once the problem was obvious. There are very few issues that will stop a tenant from being evicted.

shadowlady 2 years, 2 months ago

Sometimes it does no good to talk to the landlords, cause where my son lives, he has talked and talked and talked many many times about his front door, (which he didn't know was bad when he first looked at the house, not until he moved in), also no locks on two windows. The landlord does absolutely nothing. There are big limbs that are dead over the top of the house, the landlords have been told about that. All the man does is come look at the tree and then leaves,

shadowlady 2 years, 2 months ago

And my son and wife are very clean people and they pay their rent on time and is never late.

Steve Jacob 2 years, 2 months ago

It's a double edged sword. Well maintained apartments will cost more. You get what you pay for.

Liberty275 2 years, 2 months ago

As an undergrad in the early 90s my rent was at times $100/month. That got me a 8x10 room with a bed, a toilette and a sink. If not for that bathroom-sized home, I would have lived on the street. I moved up to a nice three room place later for about $200 because the landlord was gay and thought I was hot. I let him think what he wanted and moved right in.

Of course, that doesn't excuse the landlord from keeping up his property, but if that was all I could afford, I probably would have bleached the halls and fixed what I could instead of losing my home. Cheap rent is hard to find.

headdoctor 2 years, 2 months ago

Well maintained apartments and houses may cost more in Lawrence but the small number of landlords who are closer to slumlords tend to extract as much rent as possible doesn't make their rentals real cheap either.

I don't care much for Government interference. Unfortunately there are cases where property owners will do as they please so interference is the only real option left. The City of Lawrence could help in this area if they would stop dragging their feet and follow through with licensing and inspections of multifamily rentals. There are several single family houses that have been cleaned up because of the licensing ordinances and a few who insisted on being slumlords ended up losing or shutting down their property.

geekin_topekan 2 years, 2 months ago

Renters are always free to not sign the lease. That is the freedom that landlords rely upon in this town. No lease? No problem. (Go find somewhere else to live)

If the lease does not contain agreements over repairs, parking, upkeep, and landlord responsibility, it is non-existent. If you ask it be inserted, the answer is "no".

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually, that's not entirely true.

The Kansas Landlord Tenant Act spells out certain responsibilities of both parties, even if those aren't specified in a lease.

headdoctor 2 years, 2 months ago

It is true that renters don't have to sign and there are a few landlords that do not have written leases. Here in a college town the landlords have a bumper crop of young kids every year to prey on. Ignorance may not be an excuse but most of these kids are clueless about real estate and or contract law and many of them are faced with not a lot of money. I have always thought that lower end apartments and houses do serve a purpose for many of the less fortunate. Lower end rentals does not have to equal run down junk property.

paulveer 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks, Robert, for the work you and HCCI do.

Loretta James 2 years, 1 month ago

sometimes u got to take what u can afford. That is a slumlord my grandson lived in one of his apts. on redbud his shower backed up in thr tub below him so they told him not to use the shower!!!!!!!!!!! they never did fix it that is not all that was wrong but when he with held the rent they evicted him. they need to inspect all the apts. he owns.

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