Archive for Tuesday, December 17, 2013

City balks at idea of limiting proposed rental inspection program

December 17, 2013


Rental units in the city should get a full safety inspection, and now all 18,000 rentals in the city may get a special placard that would tell tenants how to file a complaint against their landlord with City Hall.

On a 3-2 vote, Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday rejected a proposal that would have eliminated 38 of the 66 possible violations a landlord could be cited for under a proposed rental licensing and inspection program.

A majority of commissioners also agreed with a suggestion of City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer that would require each rental unit in the city to have posted somewhere in its interior a placard that provides a telephone number and other information on how to file a city complaint about living conditions in their rental units.

"We need an ordinance to protect the vulnerable and innocent in our community," Farmer said.

A majority of commissioners also rejected the idea of a sunset provision that would have automatically ended the new rental registration program at the end of 2017, unless the commission at that time reauthorized the program.

Tuesday's action did not formally create the new program, however. Instead staff members were directed to bring an ordinance back to the commission sometime in January for a vote. Commissioners voted 3-2 to direct staff to do so, with Mayor Mike Dever and Commissioner Mike Amyx voting against the proposal. Dever and Amyx had created the proposal that would have eliminated the 38 violations, and would have added the sunset provision.

In other news, commissioners also directed staff members to draft an ordinance that would increase city commissioner pay beginning after the April 2015 elections. The proposed salaries would be $20,000 for commissioners, up from $9,000 currently. The mayor would be paid $25,000, up from $10,000 currently. The raise would be the first for the commission since 1999.


Matthew Herbert 4 years, 5 months ago

This is the most bi-polar commission ever. First we want the program....then, when we realize the Constitution exists, we don't....then we do again, but now with signs explaining to tenants how to file a complaint they could have filed all along without this program even existing.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Ater the vote Lawrence now has a better document with which to operate the program. Good job.

Tenants need to be advised of their rights in writing everyday. It's okay. It's constitutional.

Most rentals have had years and years to be brought up to code. Some owners say screw it.

$25 per month per month fully supports the program and 5 inspectors. $25 should be reinstated as the cost per unit after 12 years as the law. Reducing the cost opens doors to stifle the program. I say there are enough rentals and safety issues to keep this program alive as is done in neighboring counties.

Lenexa,Overland Park,Leavenworth,Roeland Park, Prairie Village, Westwood, Merriam,Leawood and Kansas City have rental programs. Iowa City has had a program since 1970. This is not new stuff.

Performance Audit: Rental Housing Licensing Program – February 2012 can be procured through City Hall. A ton of information.

Code Enforcemnet

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

City commissioner pay increase should be put to the voters. Wouldn't we all love to decide our own pay increases. How about pay increases be based on merit?

How responsible have our tax dollars been managed?

How often were taxpayers allowed to approve big ticket spending items that were and are controversial?

How well do commissioners enforce site plan documents aka demanding developers obey the laws?

How pleased are taxpayers with the corporate welfare handed down by our local politicians?

How responsive have the commissioners to the taxpayers request for rehabilitating the city's older walkways in the interest of safety, health and economic growth.

If the pay increase is based on $15.00 per hour that should also be the Lawrence living wage.
All hard workers deserve the same living wage.

Clark Coan 4 years, 5 months ago

What is the Living Wage in Lawrence now? I think only a handful of companies that get tax abatements have to pay it.

RJ Johnson 4 years, 5 months ago

Here we go again! This is a doomed program and a waste of money. Even if part of it passes most of the rental companies in this town will pass on all cost associated with this program to the tenants..

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Tenants to Homeowners offers high quality low cost residential to own or rent.

Living in a fire hazard residence is not low cost housing it is a threat to human life.

"the rental companies in this town will pass on all cost associated with this program to the tenants.." Haven't they always passed on expenses and how is this different from any other business?

Perhaps tenants will begin to search out the best bang for the buck? There are rentals available 24/7 no matter what. In fact way more choices than tenants which should inspire tenants to negotiate ….. in essence Lawrence is a renters markets.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 5 months ago

I am curious to see the actual numbers on number of tenants in Lawrence vs. number of rental properties available in Lawrence. I know that your analysis above is to suggest that there are way more properties than people wanting properties, but from my experience in the field, it is not uncommon for us to receive 6-8 applications per rental property suggesting that perhaps the supply/demand curve is NOT as you suggest. I would certainly agree that this town has a surplus of apartments, but I would not agree that this town has a surplus of single family homes for rent.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

I am not surprised to see the commissioners have chosen to become the highest paid in the state. They will be making $6000+(at least 43%) more per year than commissioners from larger communities. They have failed to offer any support as to why they should be paid more than anyone else. If the commissioners in KCK, Overland Park and Topeka make between $10-14K why should Lawrence taxpayers be on the hook for such a money grab? To increase their pay to be even with Topeka or Overland Park is one thing but to raise your salary well beyond that level is nothing but shameful. The commissioners already make more than Olathe which is a larger community.

Clark Coan 4 years, 5 months ago

I remember when I was younger I lived in some real dumps in Lawrence. They were not 100% safe or sanitary. People should be guaranteed the right to decent housing that is safe and not harmful to one's health.

Also, now there won't be retaliation for filing a complaint. Such retaliation used to take the form of the rent being jacked up suddenly or eviction for frivolous reasons.

I think $20,000 is fair salary for a half-time job. It will also encourage low and moderate-income people to run for city commission. Currently, they can't afford to do so.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 5 months ago

if you have signed a lease, rent cannot be "jacked up suddenly" since I assume the lease that you signed states the period of your residency and the price of your residency. With regards to eviction, it is worth noting in fact that the eviction process is both a paperwork nightmare for your landlord and an incredibly time consuming process. Overnight evictions do not really exist. Furthermore, if the house is a "real dump" and not 100% safe or sanitary, an eviction process seems like a great way to get out of a lease you clearly don't want to be in to begin with.

4 years, 4 months ago

I like how they can meet and discuss the issues at hand. Seriously the only thing they can come to agree on is they're salaries...

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