Landlords fear new ordinance could lead to more blight

A St. Joseph landlord shares why he feels the new mandatory rental inspections passed by the city will only add to the city's issue with abandoned structures.

Posted: Mar 28, 2019 12:21 AM
Updated: Mar 28, 2019 7:28 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) A 3 bedroom, 2 bath home currently sits on 12th street, unoccupied. Darren Burnettthe owner of the home is now worried he will have a harder time trying to find someone willing to move in after the city-imposed mandatory rental inspections go into effect.

"This is a perfect example of overkill because this house is in pretty good shape," Burnett said.

As he surveyed the home he has owned for three decades, Burnett recounts the work he's put into keeping up the home. He said he upgraded plumbing and lighting fixtures and made multiple rooms out of an upstairs space. The updates made to the home within the last year Burnett said totaled $8,000.

Despite those updates, Burnett said the home wouldn't pass inspection. Some components in the home in violation were a partially installed lighting fixture in the basement, missing outlet covers in the upstairs room and the windows throughout the main floor of the home were not in working order.

"Although this is a great house," Burnett said. "To make it a rental, there would still have to be a few more things done to it."

Burnett said he’d have to spend a few more thousand dollars to make the necessary repairs, most of that expense would go toward replacing and installing new windows. 

Burnett said if he were to rent the home out, he would've done so for $900 a month, in order to comply with the new ordinance he said he'd have to raise the rent to $1000 a month.

"Sometimes, a hundred dollars a month means the difference between someone having a house or not, " Burnett said.

Burnett's worry now is that many tenants will be priced out of their homes, and if he or his fellow landlords can’t find new tenants, their properties will end up like the many other houses in the same neighborhood as his property, they'll become run down and dilapidated.

"The 500 abandoned vacant houses we have in town overtime time will grow," Burnett said. "Not shrink."

The rental inspections will begin as voluntary for the first year before officially becoming mandatory in the middle of next year. 

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