We are asking the city of Manhattan to implement a proactive rental safety inspections program.
Modeled after Lawrence, this program would require a percentage of a property owner’s units be inspected on a regular basis with tenant consent to provide accountability to and enforcement of a set of core safety codes.
Under the current rental registration program implemented in 2017, less than 1% of rental properties have been inspected for adherence to safety codes.
The current program relies on tenants to call code services to request an inspection. This leaves tenants vulnerable to landlord or property management intimidation and manipulation. Tenants fear repercussions for requesting inspections and often do not have the means to move out of unsafe housing.
The city should be holding property owners accountable and requiring compliance to safety codes. Tenants should not be burdened with monitoring whether or not the rental units licensed by the city are safe for them to live in.
Did you know..?
A rental inspections program like we’re proposing is legal in the state of Kansas? The opposition likes to claim that its banned by state law. However, in a memo to the City Commission dated 3/26/19, Katie Jackson, Manhattan City Attorney, stated that a rental inspection program like we’re proposing complies with current Kansas law and could be implemented and enforced by the City of Manhattan.
Highlights of Rental Inspections
RENTAL INSPECTIONS ARE WANTED
Rental inspections were specifically identified by a diverse, multi-sector group of 95 community stakeholders including renters, landlords, property managers and homeowners in the Community Solutions to Affordable Housing project.
In addition, The Student Government Association at K-State unanimously passed a resolution in support of rental inspections because unsafe rental housing is an issue widely affecting students.
RENTAL INSPECTIONS ARE NEEDED
According to the most recent Community Survey done by the City of Manhattan, the condition of rental housing is the second most unsatisfying item among Manhattan residents right behind ‘availability of affordable housing.’ This has not changed from the previous Community Surveys, yet nothing is done about it.
As a side note, education - alone - doesn’t work. Lawrence tried it, and to no one’s surprise it did not work. The City of Manhattan is currently relying on this, and it’s still not working. Less than 1% of rentals have inspected since 2017 under the current registration program in Manhattan.
RENTAL INSPECTIONS ARE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE
It’s cost-neutral for the City - In Lawrence, the program paid for itself by the third year.
It’s good business - Lawrence property managers have not found the program burdensome to staff time or their bottom line. Preventative maintenance is cheaper than the often-far-greater expense of deferred maintenance. In addition, it's a good investment among ‘good actors’ to push out ‘bad actors.’
It helps Manhattan grow - Safe housing helps us attract and retain a younger, competent workforce and build our local economy.
Tired of the slumlords running this town? Fight back.
Manhattan is a renters’ city — half of our town rents their home. Because renters are so transient here, it was hard for renters to stay organized and fight for what is rightfully ours. Slumlords know this, and have exploited it for years. Manhattan used to have a rental inspection program, until the landlords organized and got it repealed. But we outnumber them! We can change the culture of renting in Manhattan when we stand together.
Join us at our weekly meetings
We meet every Wednesday at First United Methodist Church. We have partnered with Common Table to share the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday nights. Common Table provides a free community meal at 6pm, with our meetings starting at 7pm. We work together and organize ourselves during our meetings, so come prepared to work.