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Archive for Friday, March 21, 2014

Editorial: Registration needed?

Does Lawrence need a new rental registration system to enforce city code requirements that already exist?

March 21, 2014

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Lawrence city commissioners at next Tuesday’s meeting are expected to vote to approve a new ordinance designed to correct and improve conditions at thousands of rental units in the city.

More than half of Lawrence’s residents live in rental units, so this matter should be of great concern to the entire community.

The city has a code that deals with the health, safety and welfare of those living in rental property, and the proposed ordinance would not add much other than requiring a license and fee for every landlord and all rental units. Landlords who do not pay for the new license and have inspections can have their units shut down.

City officials estimate this fee would generate sufficient income to fund a larger inspection operation that would cost $500,000 or more. Those favoring the new ordinance claim this action is necessary if the city is to have the manpower to make sure rental units are up to the city’s standards.

Those opposing or questioning the need for the new ordinance point out the city’s code already calls for units to meet certain health, safety and welfare standards and that the city has the right to shut down those who violate the code or refuse to correct questionable conditions.

It is believed most of the city’s larger, newer apartment complexes meet and surpass city code requirements and that most of the non-compliant apartments are located in older homes that have been converted to rental housing.

There are abuses and situations that need to be corrected. Lawrence, particularly as a university city with thousands of students living in off-campus apartments, needs to have good, sound, safe and reasonably priced apartment units. But is a new ordinance needed to achieve this goal when the city code already covers such conditions? Are city commissioners derelict in not demanding that the code be enforced and those in the Planning and Development Services Department be far more active in making sure landlords who fail to meet city code requirements are fined, punished or shut down?

City officials are seeking to limit the program’s burden on good landlords by creating a system where landlords who pass inspections with high scores won’t be inspected again for six years. But why punish or add costs to those landlords who measure up or surpass city code requirements when adherence to the existing code could bring about many improvements?

Comments

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

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.

Performance Audit: Rental Housing Licensing Program http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2012/02-2812/auditor_performance_audit_rental_housign_program.pdf

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

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

--- Report a Code Violation http://www.lawrenceks.org/pds/code_enforcement

Enforces the following codes

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

-- Environmental Code (Chapter 9, Article 6)

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

-- 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

Got a Disorderly/Nuisance House ? Being able to support allegations is quite important.

--- Neighbors team up. A variety of concerned citizens is important.

--- Keep records as to how often and which code enforcement mechanisms have been requested. Sign police reports for a paper trail

--- Keep a record as to how many times the property owner and/or property manager have been notified.

--- Take pictures – as if preparing a power point for city commissioners.

Richard Heckler 9 months, 1 week ago

Retaining maximum market values for neighboring live in homeowners is at stake without the rental registration. This is a huge issue. Ratty looking rentals nearby threaten owner occupied resident market values.

Neighbors deserve enforcement of the codes instead of being ignored as a means to protect their investments.

Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 1 week ago

"Does Lawrence need a new rental registration system to enforce city code requirements that already exist?"

Yes, it is needed because it will create a few jobs, which are in short supply here in Lawrence.

Although I will admit that it is possible it is needed for other valid reasons. My first answer was my first reaction to that question. I am suspicious of any new governmental program, city, state, or federal, that will cost some people money and possibly might not be needed.

Bureaucracies are easy to create, and very difficult to remove.

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