City Commission hears strong response to rental inspection program

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Manhattan redisdents gather to provide feedback on a possible rental inspection program. Staff Photo: Austin Barnes

Staff Photo Credit: Austin Barnes

A rental inspection program and property maintenance ordinances were in the queue for Manhattan City Commissioners, as they sat down for a work session on Tuesday night.

It was the issue of rental inspection however, that had city property owners, landlords and tenants passionately providing public comment.

One K-State student present for the discussion, told commissioners that the discussion made him feel that “landlords are crooks and students are idiots.” Indicating that he didn’t feel respected as a renter.

Several clips from the public comment session can be heard below.

The discussion of mandatory rental inspections in the city of Manhattan, has come up at least six times in the last 35 years.

City Building Official, Brad Claussen, led the rental housing discussion as commissioners provided feedback and direction on ways that such a program could be properly structured.

The topic of a rental inspection program was once again brought forth, following a presentation from K-State Student Body President Andy Hurtig and the university’s Student Governing Association.

City Commissioners approved a similar rental inspection program in 2009, under the following ordinance guidelines;

1.) An initial onetime registration fee of $20 per dwelling unit (the
registration database is still in existence but has not been updated since
2011); 11,714 dwelling units were registered.

2.) A license issued upon registration and contingent on future compliance. If
the license was suspended or revoked, the property could not be occupied
until compliance was achieved.

3.) An inspection fee of $65 per unit payable in the year of inspection; 1,015
units were inspected up to the time of repeal.
After the initial inspection, units would be inspected based on violations,
anywhere from one to five years which would require less fees be paid in
the long term by compliant units.

4.) The rental license and an educational poster were required to be posted in
each unit.

5.) A reduced scope of the already adopted property maintenance code formed the stand

6.) 11,714 units registered to take part in the 2009 program, but ultimately a total of only 1,015 were inspected and the program was repealed in 2011.

The overall goal of an updated program would be to ensure quality living conditions for renters, a population largely comprised of students. Commissioners seemed to be in agreement about revisiting the issue at a future work session – with a consensus in the favor of a rental education program, as advocated by commissioner Wynn Butler.

Following the lengthy discussion, commissioners turned their attention to another presentation by Claussen, which examined city codes and outlining the protocols involved in enforcing them.

The discussion included code topics like sidewalk repair, snow and ice removal on sidewalks, and inoperable vehicles. Focusing on means of improving enforcement through things like ticketing and fee assessment.

Mayor Karen McCulloh offered thoughtful feedback during the discussion, indicating her desire to simplify the code enforcement process and make it easier for Manhattan residents to follow rules set forth by the codes.

 

For more from the Manhattan City Commission, you can follow KMAN City Commission reporter Austin Barnes on Twitter @ABarnesKMAN. 

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Austin is a K-State alum, currently serving as KMAN's City Commission reporter.

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