According to city legal staff, Lawrence leaders could consider making rental licenses revocable for violating new discrimination ordinance

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on Jan. 31, 2023.

When Lawrence leaders approved an ordinance making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against potential tenants based on their source of income, they also directed city staff to consider another proposal making rental licenses revocable for violating the approved amendments.

Now, city legal staff is indicating that such a proposal could be implemented in the city’s long-term residential rental property code, according to a memo from City Attorney Toni Wheeler included with the agenda for this week’s Lawrence City Commission meeting.

In February, city leaders approved an ordinance codifying additional protections for tenants on the basis of not just their income but also their status as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking, as well as their immigration status. All of those additional protected categories are now codified under Chapter 10 of the city’s code, which outlines Lawrence’s policies for human relations.

The potential change that Wheeler outlines in the memo, however, would relate to Chapter 6 on business licenses, taxes and regulations, specifically the section that defines the regulations for rental licenses, inspections and other issues pertaining to managing rental properties.

The protections approved in February took effect in June, but not without an attempted intervention by a group of local landlords. That group, the Landlords of Lawrence association, filed a civil suit against the City of Lawrence in April aiming to prevent the parts of the ordinance related to source of income and immigration status from going into effect. That request was denied, and the changes have been active while the case remains in litigation.

Most recently, Judge Mark Simpson ruled that case would continue after denying the city’s motion to dismiss the landlords’ lawsuit.

Wheeler also notes in the memo that a complete rewrite of the the city’s human relations policies could be undertaken in the future, depending on the recommendations of the city’s Boards and Commissions Structure Committee.

The City Commission won’t be taking any action on this issue at Tuesday’s meeting, since the memo appears as part of the city manager’s report.

In other business, commissioners will:

• Receive an update on the City Clerk’s Office’s record management system and code management system projects.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.