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.