Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Landlords on notice, community expects improvements

December 14, 2006

Last month, more than 450 De Soto residents responded to a city survey on rental inspections after about 2,000 were sent out with city utility bills. That is an incredible response to such surveys. The number of returns far exceeded the 10 percent usually considered good.

Of those responding, more than 80 percent said they would welcome stricter city inspections of rental properties and 56 percent said they wanted much stricter regulation.

The participation rate and results of the survey reveal that residents of De Soto perceive a problem exists and want something done about it. Their response has given City Hall a mandate, perhaps even an obligation, to act.

Landlords, understandably, were far less supportive on what they see as city intrusion into their livelihood. Those who try hard to make their properties an asset to the community have a right to be offended. But they are also on notice that the city's residents want action.

Residents want assurances the value of their homes -- their most valuable possession -- isn't to be threatened by a landlord who views rentals only as monthly ATMs.

A few frank conversations might be in order as those landlords who strive to keep up their rental houses and apartments relate the changing reality to those of their peers residents think need to be pushed in that direction.

With the response, a rental inspection program looks like a sure thing. Just how far-reaching it becomes is still open to question. Applied self-interest could spare landlords future expense and regulation.

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