Sound Off

Sound Off: Is there an agency that acts as an advocate for renters who have moved into dwellings that have safety and code issues that property owners aren’t cooperative in fixing?

The city of Lawrence does not provide mediation for landlord/tenant issues, but it does refer questions to Housing and Credit Counseling Inc., a nonprofit company in Topeka, Lawrence and Manhattan. Their website is and can be reached by telephone at (785) 749-4224.


Seth Amott 5 years, 9 months ago

If there were actual Safety Code violations, i.e. Illegal, would that not be something that the city should be made aware of? It's not really a Tenant/Landlord issue, as much as a Landlord negligence issue. While the HCCI could probably help with it, it seems to me that it is an unnecessary step. Just my 2 cents.

somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, maybe I am reading this question wrong, but I am taking it as safety and code violations not just some disagreements. I thought that is what brought about the Inspection Program in the first place ??

I notice they didn't credit anyone (Meghan) with the answer but don't think they got the correct one. Anything related to safety and codes, I think, should be directed to Codes Enforcement in the City. But, as Squid says, that is just my 2 cents worth.

BruceWayne 5 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like Compton and Core-less answered the question for the paper.

irvan moore 5 years, 9 months ago

the city inspection program doesn't cover multifamily dwellings, just single family dwellings so leaves out the biggest part of the problem.

woodscolt 5 years, 9 months ago

The city of Lawrence does not provide mediation for landlord/tenant issues,

This is simply a cop out by the city. The city is responsible for code enforcement and code violation. The Landlord Tenant Act is legal and binding and requires enforcement. To classify this as a "landlord tenant issue" is laughable but thats our civic leaders at work for you and your tax dollars. Thats why there are so many slumlords in this town. They will take advantage of college students that aren't really in a position to essentially pick a fight with them over the landlords criminal behavior.

nekansan 5 years, 9 months ago

It is not the city's responsibility to enforce civil contract law between 2 private parties. Code enforcement has a responsibility to deal with code violations but that can be a time consuming and subjective process. If your landlord is not properly maintaining the property and therefore breaking the lease your recourse is to move out and/or sue them in civil court. And as others have mentioned; most tenants don't have the resources, time or knowledge to fight and win the battle. It is not fair at all but that is the law.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

That's why I support more stringent city regulations, which are enforced, on landlords.

headdoctor 5 years, 9 months ago

There is already plenty of regulations and enforcement on single family dwellings through the inspections and licensing. As another poster pointed out, it is the multifamily dwellings that get a pass here in Lawrence and that is where there are some serious issues. Especially with the old houses that have been converted to multifamily. Most of the newer construction is already in code except where lack of maintenance or alterations have occurred.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't agree, even single family houses aren't held to a very high standard by the city.

But, I do agree that multi-family units should be held to a higher standard as well.

headdoctor 5 years, 8 months ago

I am not sure what your idea of a higher standard is. The licensing inspections can get pretty picky. The only single family houses that are not licensed are the ones that are located in an area of zoning that isn't included in the licensing law. Which the law should have been modified but hasn't been yet. I am not sure why they left that bunch out but then the multifamily shouldn't have been left out either. It isn't exactly a fair practice making some landlords comply giving the others a pass.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

The standards for landlords for single family houses are rather basic, at least last time I looked, and discussed them with code enforcement.

I would increase them, from basic safety codes, and include more in the way of maintenance and repair, personally.

headdoctor 5 years, 8 months ago

I believe the original idea of the rental licensing law was to be able to enforce basic standards for safety and attempt to control how many people were living in the single family dwelling. They can enforce obvious updates such as adding smoke detectors, etc. The problem they run into is with older housing that when it was built or when remodeled it was done to code then but not up to building code now and not all maintenance and repair is directly related to health and safety issues. The biggest problems with the current law is the law already tries to straddle several areas of coverage without giving the licensing inspectors a clear cut way of enforcement on some issues and the inspectors do not have the time or knowledge to actually do a thorough inspection. Forcing a property owner to do maintenance on anything that doesn't relate to health or safety would be an uphill battle and could easily be considered over reaching by the city.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Could be.

As I said, I'd increase the standards to include more maintenance and repair, that's not immediately related to safety issues.

Sounds like you're a landlord - is that the case?

woodscolt 5 years, 8 months ago

"It is not the city's responsibility to enforce civil contract law between 2 private parties."

Well of course not, but in cases where landlords cut corners by patching together bad wiring and gas lines and other code violations it is most certainly the city's responsibility.That is not a landlord/ tenant dispute but rather a city /property owner dispute that a tenant is taking the hit for. In addition to this, when property owners cut corners and do repairs that require a building permit and a licensed contractor but choose to shoddy and potentially dangerous repair that is very much the cities responsibility to address.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 9 months ago

Some issues can be taken up with the Health Dept.

parrothead8 5 years, 9 months ago

KU students also have access to legal services through the university:

LFKFTW 5 years, 9 months ago

If the code issues are bad enough and the landlord is being uncooperative, you can always invite the FIre Department over. They can either force your landlord to address the issues or simply have the place condemned, allowing you to get out of your lease. I know people that have done this in the past because of bad landlords. This doesn't sound like a place where you should continue living.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Or consider submitting the address for a Demolition by Neglect investigation.

Old heating systems may be candidates for the Red Tag from the natural gas company.

Perhaps a neighborhood association can help with code violations.

cornflakegirl 5 years, 9 months ago

HCCI provides advocacy, like the questions asks.

Codes Enforcement provides just that... enforcement.

HCCI has a wealth of knowledge and will refer the renter to Codes if other means of solving the problem fall though.

Both HCCI and Codes Enforcement are great agencies with amazing staff!

Kat Christian 5 years, 8 months ago

I advise anyone complaining to your Landlord of ANY issue to do so in "writing" and keep a copy (create a paper file), especially on issues of repair and safety hazards, but not inclusive of them. Even if you only need a key for your door - do so in writing - Always. When you need to take a issue further to contact authorities do so again in writing and include copies of the letter(s) written to your Landlord for verification. Also require your Landlord to answer in kind, if they don't whatever verbal comment they reply will not be upheld in court Only written response and/or their action (or lack thereof) will serve as proof. When you have a repair or safety issue needing attention and the 1st letter did not stir a response wait one week then request action again, but add your intention to take further action. Usually that stirs action, if not then take the further action as stated above. And keep climbing the ladder of authority until you get the response you expect. Never give up. But at the same time you need to be a respectful caretaker of the property you are renting.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Those all seem like very good things to do.

But, if your landlord refuses to put things in writing, what then? Tenants can request, but not "require" their landlords to do that.

One of my complaints about Lawrence rentals is that the city puts the burden on tenants, rather than landlords, by using a "complaint" system - I'd prefer the city simply keeps track of landlords and their activities without that. For one thing, if you complain about your landlord to the city, you run the real risk of not getting a good reference if you need one.

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

It's called a lawyer. Call Boog. He's got some sliding scale thing. If he loses he only charges you half.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 8 months ago

Let me see if I understand. You, the renter choose a place to live based on cost per month, move in, THEN, demand your landlord upgrades their house to your specifications. If the landlord doesn't then you whine to the city, or anyone else that will listen because of your choice to live there. Gawd, I am so glad I sold all of mine.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 8 months ago

You're money would not be going to me, as it is not your money when you get it from the taxpayer and I don't take HUD!

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