Missouri town may require all apartments to be inspected

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) – The attorney for Kennett is working on an ordinance which would require all rental properties within city limits to be inspected upon a change of ownership or change of occupancy, according to Mayor Roger Wheeler. Wheeler told Region 8 News landlords in the city met with municipal leaders Thursday night for a special forum. Landlords were notified of the city's intent and allowed to respond.

"We discussed guidelines for a proposed ordinance that the city is wanting to pass and what is was going to entail, what kind of inspection material is was going to be and what was going to trigger those inspections," said Randy Morgan.

Morgan owns 21 rental properties, residential and commercial, throughout Kennett. He said all landlords are for legislation or programs that would ensure safe and healthy living standards.

"I think all the landlords are for something that will create a program that will correct health and safety issues," said Morgan. "I feel there's a lot of opposition to the way it is in its present form. I think it'll have trouble passing."

Morgan said the overall intent of the draft ordinance is understandable, but said there are problems with it.

"A lot of this rental property was built back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, which does not meet current BOCA standards," said Morgan. "I think most of the objection is having city government tell us what condition our property is supposed to be in."

Right now, the Kennett code enforcement officer inspects rental properties when contacted by a tenant. Victor Mode, who inspects homes every day, said he examines properties when problems aren't addressed.

"When I'm called by the tenant that they're having issues with, most of the time it's either electrical or plumbing, and they have contacted their landlord and haven't seen any results from that," said Mode. "When I find a problem, I send a report to the landlord and explain the problem to give them a timeline to get the things fixed."

Scott Tutor is the city's fire marshal. He told Region 8 News Friday that several fires have been ignited because of faulty wiring.

"I try to screen a few and in my contracts I've got a 30 day where we come in and do an inspection once a month and our main goal is for people's safety," said Tutor, who also owns five rental properties.

"I see a lot of extension cords being misused. In a lot of the detectors, the batteries are missing. Sometimes they don't make a good connection in there," said Tutor.

Wheeler said dirt was coming through the floor in one apartment.

"I get a lot of calls from individuals that are tenants and they say, will you come look at this place? It's deplorable," said Wheeler. "They're unsafe and they're unhealthy. I'm only trying to think about the wellbeing of individuals."

Wheeler said it may be several weeks before the attorney completes a draft ordinance. Once done, the ordinance will be presented to landlords before going to the full city council.

"I gave them a chance to express their views and there's a lot that say I'm stepping out of bounds, there's too much government involved already, that what they do with their property should be nobody's business," said Wheeler.

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