Roeland Park begins discussion on possibility of expanding rental property inspections

Roeland Park Councilor Becky Fast addresses a community discussion on rental housing while Mayor Joel Marquardt and councilor Jennifer Gunby listen.
Roeland Park Councilor Becky Fast addresses a community discussion on rental housing while Mayor Joel Marquardt and councilor Jennifer Gunby listen.

While the issue of whether pit bulls should be allowed in the city drew by far the most discussion of the night, Roeland Park residents had a chance to talk about rental inspections and trash can placement as well during a community forum this week.

After the animal control ordinance and pit bull discussion, the crowd thinned out considerably, but several comments came from residents during the rental discussion. Councilor Becky Fast said Roeland Park currently requires licensing for single-family homes and duplexes, but not multi-family units. Boulevard Apartments represent the only multi-family apartment complex in the city.

Fast said Roeland Park has 280 single-family rental homes and 400 multi-family units and that the city is 22 percent rental property. A recent housing inventory showed that Mission is more than 50 percent rental with 347 single-family homes and 2,392 multi-family units among the rentals.

In Roeland Park, only the exterior of the licensed properties are inspected. In Mission, single family rentals only get an interior inspection if the tenant requests or if it has multiple code violations. For apartments, five percent of the units must be inspected each year in Mission. Fairway, Fast said, only inspects interiors when requested by tenants, but Merriam inspects five percent of apartments annually and interior of single-family homes every two years.

The few resident comments received leaned toward inspection, including input from a rental property manager who said he welcomed interior inspections. Most of the complaints he receives are about tenants not cutting the grass, he said.

Fast said the council is just beginning the discussion on whether to expand the current licensing program to include interior inspections. “We have a lot of great landlords,” she said, “but this is for ones that don’t keep up property.”

The third topic brought to the forum was whether the trash can restrictions should be changed to require receptacles to be stored behind the front line of the house. Currently, they must be out of sight from the street.