At an open house last month, a few owners of rental properties in Overland Park expressed concerns about a city plan that would prod landlords to take better care of their houses and apartments.
City officials must not be deterred by the criticism. Instead, the City Council early next year should approve a well-crafted licensing and inspection program for the exteriors of rental properties. It would start in 2017.
As a result, it’s more likely that houses and apartment units will be kept in better conditions, reducing blight that’s caused by neglect. The inspections and licensing could protect and even bolster property values in neighborhoods, good news for single-family homeowners.
A few potential stumbling blocks expressed about the proposed program are overblown.
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The total fees of $60 per house and $200 per apartment complex are reasonable. They won’t cause renters to flee Overland Park for other cities.
Another fear — that this is just another “layer of bureaucracy — is not well-founded. The city is responding to residents who want the city to help ensure better living conditions for renters. City officials are not coming in with a top-down plan; a task force that included rental community representatives helped put this one together.
Finally, one critic at the open house said “the city seems to be justifying this new project with a whole lot of statistics and not much else.”
That’s a curious objection, because taking statistics into account — facts, that is — and planning to make things better is the proper role for public officials.
The city knows that rental properties historically have had a high number of code violations. That’s a crucial statistic the city needs to reduce, and a new licensing and inspection program could help do that.