Resident-requested rental inspections fails to protect renters

As evidenced by community news (The Mercury’s recent “Public advocates for affordable housing,” and “City discusses affordable housing”), many people in Manhattan wrongly believe rental inspection cannot be mandated.

In fact, it seems regulating rental inspection is perfectly legal in Kansas. A simple reading of the law that came from Kansas Senate Bill 366 reveals that the only limitation on regulating rental inspection is that, “… the lawful, resident occupant gives consent.”

Lawrence, Kansas, implemented mandatory inspection prior to the passage of this bill and maintains that their policies for seeking tenant permission before inspecting allow their rental inspection program to function within the law.

a green apartment in manhattan ks

In Manhattan, I’ve seen rental units with faulty, sparking electrical systems, black mold, broken doors and locks, faulty plumbing, and broken windows and screens.

Rental inspection programs, which are in place in many communities across the United States, are intended to protect public health, safety and welfare. These programs uphold building and maintenance codes to help ensure that housing is safe and in good repair.

In Manhattan, I’ve seen rental units with faulty, sparking electrical systems, black mold, broken doors and locks, faulty plumbing, and broken windows and screens. Resident-requested inspection (our MHK status quo) fails to protect renters who often fear landlord retaliation through raised rent, discontinued leases or even eviction.

Manhattan city commissioners the mayor should revisit policies on rental inspection. Many landlords care for their property and run responsible businesses — they could be the first to support mandatory rental inspection. No one in our community benefits from a devastated housing stock. Let’s choose a vibrant, safe and well-maintained future.

This piece originally ran in The Manhattan Mercury on Nov. 12, 2018.