- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha tenants and landlords weighed in on three ordinance proposals regarding the oversight of rental properties, which were prompted by the evacuation of hundreds of tenants from a squalid apartment complex.

The three proposals call for a rental registry program for the city’s estimated 90,000 rental units, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The proposals have different requirements for property inspections, ranging from annual inspections for properties with a history of code violations to inspections every four years for well-maintained properties.

Housing advocates on Tuesday told City Council that there should be stronger protections for tenants, who are facing deteriorating conditions while problematic landlords are seeing few consequences. James Ballarin, who owns three rentals in Omaha, said he supports paying fees to support inspections.

“If our city allows some properties to go uninspected, the problems will spread and the nearby housing and businesses will diminish in value,” he said.

Landlords said additional regulations would hurt all businesses instead of just problem properties, and that fees would likely be passed on to renters. Tenant Kennetta Wainwright was concerned about how disruptive frequent inspections could be.

“I don’t want you in my house, I don’t want you invading my privacy, I don’t want you to mess up the relationship between not only myself, but other tenants and their landlords,” she said.

Mayor Jean Stothert said she hopes to find a compromise.

“A solution that … penalizes hundreds of property owners who are excellent stewards of their rental property will not be effective,” she said. “I am confident that we can find common ground and compromise on a practical, enforceable and affordable ordinance that is focused on the true problem: noncompliant landlords.”

The discussion on the city’s rental property oversight comes after more than 500 Myanmar refugees were evacuated from Yale Park apartments in September after the city received more than 100 complaints about the conditions, including unsafe electrical circuits, natural gas leaks and units infested with mice, bedbugs and maggots.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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