Landlord Proposal Sparks Enforcement Debate

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

How best to crack down on bad landlords spurred debate at a public hearing Monday night.

The Topeka City Council's Policy and Finance Committee got feedback on Mayor Bill Bunten's proposal to require out of town landlords to register and have a local contact. Another proposal would increase penalties for nuisance property code violations. Several dozen people turned out at a public hearing at the Law Enforcement Center to address the proposals.

Bunten says he modeled his proposal after measures cities like Wichita and Little Rock have to keep rental properties clean. He says he feels something needs to be done to clean up Topeka's rental properties. He says landlords need to know the city won't stand for overgrown grass and trash-filled yards.

Many of those speaking at Monday's hearing agreed something needs to be done to clean up certain properties. While some applauded Bunten for spurring the discussion, they also wondered if new proposals are needed. Many speakers said enforcing existing codes would be the better answer.

Karen Hiller, executive director of Housing and Credit Counseling, said if the proposal is not going to solve the problem then the city needs to look at what the problem really is and do something to address it.

Michael Bradley, a Topeka homeowner who is about to become a landlord of a Lawrence property, said people need to make Topeka a better place to live for those who live in their own home across the streets from "some of the crap" landlords are renting.

Bunten says he's open to any changes.

The committee will decide later what, if any, proposals to forward to the full council for debate.

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