Lawrence creates rental inspection program
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- City commissioners approved a new program requiring 10 percent of all rental properties in Lawrence be inspected every year in an effort to improve living conditions.
The Lawrence Journal-World reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/11HJMh0 ) that the program requires single-family rentals to be licensed with the city, covering all zoning areas and making every rental property subject to random inspections. The city's current inspection program covers only rentals in single-family neighborhoods.
Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the program, and members will approve formal details at future meetings. The program is expected to be in place and inspections should be beginning by year's end.
"We want to find bad landlords and get them to correct their behavior," City Commissioner Bob Schumm said. "This is about the health, safety and welfare of our citizens."
City staff estimates the program will cost about $385,000 a year and add about 4,000 inspections to the city's work load each year. More inspectors will likely be hired.
Commissioner Mike Amyx voted against the expansion, questioning why additional staff was necessary for the inspections when tenants currently can call the city and request inspections of properties that are questionable.
"I'm just not comfortable increasing this level of government," said Amyx, who supported the registration portion of the program.
Commissioners said the program is aimed at making sure that landlords are paying attention to unsafe conditions, such as mold or faulty fire alarms.
Landlords would be required to pay a $10 licensing fee for each rental unit they have in the city, with larger apartment complex owners receiving a discount based on volume up to 30 percent for those with more than 150 units. Landlords would pay a $50-per unit inspection fee in years that properties are being examined and only for the number of units being reviewed.
Large complexes would have a cap on the number of inspections at any one time, either 10 percent of their total units or 15 units, whichever number is smaller.
The Lawrence Apartment Association asked commissioners to provide more price breaks on registration fees for larger complexes. A group representative questioned whether the city was prepared to begin the thousands of new inspections that would be required annually.