Kansas City’s Rental Inspection Ordinance Pt.1

rental inspections

This morning we are going to talk about a recent ordinance passed by Kansas City voters. This new ordinance is a rental inspection ordinance which requires the city to inspect rental properties. This ordinance also allows tenants the ability to contact city officials about problems with their rental properties. This particular ordinance is very controversial as most are. With two sides and different perspectives. With its pros and its cons, it is now official, made possible by Kansas City voters.

The Pros and Cons of Rental Inspections

We are going to take a moment to review the ordinance from various perspectives. Also from our experience of working both with tenants and landlords who are dealing with unhealthy living conditions. As a mold remediation company, we are normally providing customer resolutions. To deal with health concerns related to toxic mold. However, it is common for us to see and recommend other maintenance items. That needed to be addressed in the property that can lead to unsafe living conditions.

From the Tenant’s Perspective:

This is good news. If you are living in an unsafe property. And your landlord fails to resolve it, you have the ability to take action. At no expense to you.  Tenant’s living conditions are now a priority for the city. The cons are that tenants will probably see an increase in rents, deposits or application fees. Due to the Landlord’s increased costs.

Tenants should also expect a delay in occupying new properties. As of now, the property will have to be inspected by the city. The city has decided to hire 12 inspectors by the end of the year. To meet all of the demands to inspect and respond to the complaint calls will put a burden on the rental inspections office. I would caution you it will probably take several years for the city to get the program running smoothly.  In summary, tenants should understand that things are going to take longer and be more expensive.

From our experience, we get calls all the time from individuals who have rented the property. Or moved into a new property that they purchased or are renting an apartment and all of a sudden they’re having significant health and respiratory problems. Majority of the time we see people ignore it and the mold exposure is minimized. Then later down the road, we find out that they end up having significant health issues that were connected back to the mold exposure.

From the Landlord’s Perspective:

This means things get more complicated. The city is going to require a $20 rental inspection fee for every rental unit. The rental inspection is to ensure that the unit is in working order and provides healthy living conditions. So this means more red tape for all landlords with properties in Kansas City, MO limits. This ordinance provides accountability to slumlords but ends up penalizing our good landlords in the search for the bad.

We see many times landlords, apartment complexes and especially flip properties will take shortcuts in order to just fill the occupancy or get the deal done quickly and inexpensively. The most common, ineffective method we see used to handle mold toxicity is bleach. Well, bleach doesn’t kill mold as we have discussed in previous articles. All bleached does is remove the color of mold.  This myth will probably take more than 50 years to correct.

Paint Over Problems

The other common practice we see is that moldy walls are painted over, most often with heavy-duty products like Kilz, which remove both odor and color. What people don’t realize is that both of these methods are only short term and both of them prolong the mold problem and make it worse.

Many times we have been contracted by apartment complexes and landlords due to tenant’s being sick from these substandard practices being used. Once we are brought in to situation many times it is after everything has blown up and it is now a legal issue. These situations are never fun, for the landlord or the tenant.  We see this scenario play out far too often.  I’m not sure that this ordinance is going to bring much improvement to these practices but we hope that landlords start taking the health and safety of the tenants more seriously.

Unsafe Handling of Toxic Materials

Another common and serious health concern in both rental properties and flip properties is the common practice by contractors and landlords to improperly remove mold and create a more dangerous environment, by spreading the mold toxins throughout the property. Many never even consider following any type of EPA recommended protocols or anything of that nature. And at the moment when you talked to most of them, they will feel as though that they have done a good job because they removed the mold and they’ve cleaned.

In their mind, the mold is gone, they’ve rebuilt and everything looks good. Therefore, the problem must be resolved. We wish it was that simple. Mold remediation is not a fun process. And the thing that we have to understand that what makes mold dangerous is that the mold molecules are so small that is so difficult to see or detect when you’re breathing in mold spores. There are tons of articles and stories on our website of the damaged caused by improperly removing mold. Most often with mold spores ending up in the ventilation system and circulating throughout the home, making the mold issue much worse.

Summary of Our Perspective:

Only time will tell, is our thought on this ordinance. Will it really create solutions or will it be another ineffective government program that requires lots of money and produces little results? There is no way to know for sure. There is a need to bring greater accountability to landlords, however, we are concerned that this ordinance may only be a futile attempt that potentially drives away good property investors that don’t want to mess with the hassle of additional red tape.

Landlords will be taking hard looks into their Kansas City investment properties. Some might even consider selling during this hot market. Thereby reducing the number of rental properties available in the city! Landlords need to be proactive and not hope to “slide things by”. Tenants also need to understand that this is not going to be a quick solution and in the end, it may affect you more than you realize. In my opinion, the program’s success is going to be solely determined by how well the city executes it. As a former Kansas City citizen, I hope that taxpayers dollars will not be wasted. In another over-regulated, underfunded, and poorly managed city program.