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Archive for Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ACLU expresses concern over city’s proposed rental inspection program

December 3, 2013

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The Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to open an investigation surrounding legal issues with the city's proposed rental licensing and inspection program, according to a letter from the group.

The ACLU letter was among a surge of opposition to the proposed citywide program, which is scheduled to be considered for approval by Lawrence City commissioners at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today.

City officials this afternoon posted to the City Commission's website nearly 40 letters of opposition from both landlords and tenants objecting to the ordinance, which would require a sampling of apartment units across the city to be inspected for health and safety code violations.

The letter from Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas, expresses concern that city inspectors plan to video record and photograph certain elements of the inspection of rental units.

"Such practices or policies raise substantial Fourth Amendment questions," Bonney wrote to city officials.

The bulk of the letters city officials received in the last two days appear to be part of an organized opposition group. Many of them were the same letter but signed by different tenants of apartment complexes around town.

The city currently operates a rental inspection program for several thousand rental units that are in single-family zoned neighborhoods. That inspection program was upheld by federal courts after the program began in 2001.

The proposed program would expand the inspection program to all types of rental units in the city. As proposed, landlords would be subject to having 10 percent of their rental units inspected every three years under normal circumstances or every six years if the condition of the properties qualified them for a city incentive program.

Comments

Addie Line 4 months, 1 week ago

Richard, according to the other article on here, trash on the lawn would be flagged, so I suppose even that classifies as "poor condition" according to the city.

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Bob Smith 4 months, 1 week ago

Can't you tie this to the Koch brothers in some obtuse fashion, Richard?

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 1 week ago

If a landlord threatens a tenant with eviction over a code violation there is a flood of vacant rentals in Lawrence,Kansas every day.

The Code Enforcement Division enforces the Property Maintenance Code, Environmental Code, Weed Code, Sign Code, and Zoning Code. http://www.lawrenceks.org/pds/code_enforcement

This division also oversees the Rental Inspection Program, environmental/structural blight, grass/weed complaints, zoning and land use regulations including site plan inspections of residential and commerical properties.

Applications and Forms

--- Report a Code Violation

--- Adopted Codes

-- Disorderly/Nuisance House Ordinance (Chapter 14, Article 11)

-- Environmental Code (Chapter 9, Article 6)

-- Property Maintenance Code (Chapter 5, Article 10)

-- Rental Housing Ordinance (Chapter 6, Article 13)

-- Walls, Fence and other Structures Ordinance

-- Weeds Ordinance (Chapter 18, Article 3)

-- Zoning Enforcement (Land Development Code - Chapter 20)

http://www.lawrenceks.org/pds/code_enforcement

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Bob Smith 4 months, 1 week ago

The eternally outraged are outraged.

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 1 week ago

Simply because Lawrence has 20,720 rental properties or about 58% of residential is rental property is not necessarily indicative that this makes up over 50% of the population. If there is a ton of vacant rental property in Lawrence,Kansas.

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 1 week ago

What is poor condition judging from an outside view?

Is a roof or porch about ready fall off? Are windows falling off? Is dry rot apparent?

Are these places housing noisy rowdy neighbors thus invading the peace and quiet of neighboring residents?

I know of a person that was reported to city hall for tall grass and not only had to mow his yard but was also forced to paint the house and such. This is not a rental property.

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 1 week ago

The CC meeting last night met my expectation. The real estate industry controls city government.

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Addie Line 4 months, 1 week ago

As mentioned in other threads, what about the homes that are in disrepair that are not rentals? This problem is not limited to rentals. Many homes across town are in poor condition just judging from the outside. Why draw the line at rentals??

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 1 week ago

Only for review to remove any other possible ACLU concerns. Homeowners which are neighbors to neglected rental properties have rights as well. An area that seems not to be a primary area of discussion.

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It also seems to me as a result of the ACLU stepping up this issue may need to be placed on the back burner once again.

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Richard Heckler 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Mayor and City Commisioners,

First of all we know not all landlords are slum lords and all tenants are not terrible neighbors.

However there are multiple issues surrounding Rental Licensing.

What about the attack on market values of neighboring residential as a result of neglected properties and rowdy tenants?

What about noisy rowdy neighbors invading the peace and quiet of neighboring residents which is in and of itself an invasion of privacy?

What’s wrong with providing safer live in environments for tenants?

20,720 rental properties inhabit Lawrence,Kansas or about 58% of residential is rental property.

There are many communities surrounding Lawrence,Ks that have had regulations in place for many years. And at significantly larger fees to property owners.

It is my best thinking that inspectors have no right to barge in without consent. All of a sudden property owners are concerned for the privacy of pot smokers my how times have changed.

My speculation says the greater concern is property owners fear the expense of bringing business properties up to code. A legal business expense. Yet could increase property values which is a plus for the community as a whole.

What if a furnace has been red tagged yet never replaced? What if a roof is in disrepair and might cave in?

What if the sewer lines need a roto rooter? What if a porch is falling apart?

What if light fixtures need some attention?

What if smoke detectors need new batteries?

What if plumbing is a disaster?

Again What about the attack on market values of neighboring residential as a result of neglected properties and rowdy tenants? Rental licensing is the Fiscally Responsible Choice for Lawrence,Kansas.

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