As is the case with many urban and suburban neighborhoods, the five neighborhoods that comprise the Marlborough Coalition have a substantial ratio of rental to owner-occupied housing. Many landlords properly oversee their properties, but in an area with a higher concentration of rental properties it is almost inevitable that certain landlords will inadequately maintain their properties. Such neglect has an obvious and almost immediate impact on adjacent properties, as well as the neighborhood as a whole. Although this may in fact be the situation, it need not be tolerated.
Proactively addressing problem properties will have a long term positive impact on the entire area. Understanding the housing laws, building codes and other frameworks in which landlords operate is the first step in managing any existing concerns. Legal requirements have been established at all levels of government – local, state and federal. Specifically, the City of Kansas City requires that landlords register their properties. There are also numerous other code and maintenance related issues that the City oversees, relating to everything from guttering and trash removal to fire code and maximum tenant levels. The State of Missouri has a Landlord Tenant Law with specific obligations for both parties. Finally, the federal government has important Fair Housing laws that apply to most multi-family rental properties.
A handful of willing community members have volunteered to serve as champions to begin addressing this issue. This leadership group will need to prioritize how best to implement a stronger neighborhood oversight process. Guidelines are defined on how best to undertake this process, as well as which entities may partner in creating this new framework. This will not be the first time a neighborhood has aggressively committed to this process, and the potential governmental and quasi-governmental entities that will assist in this process are well versed on effective processes.
Additional information to implement this opportunity below:
1. Create a database of all of the non-owner occupied single family homes and apartment buildings in the Marlborough area.
2. Conduct a training session for both Marlborough residents and landlords regarding federal, state and local housing related laws.
3. Establish a protocol for notifying the appropriate authorities when there appears to be a violation, including having the first line of defense being the City’s 311 Action Center.
4. Monitor properties being foreclosed upon or on the market for sale, and communicate with potential purchasers with regard to neighborhood expectations.
5. Engage directly with landlords and actively encourage their participation in the Marlborough Community Coalition.
6. Look to incorporate more Neighborhood Watch activities in the area, and coordinate with other Catalyst initiatives (Arts, Mobility, Healthy Foods) to target problem locations with concentrated efforts.
Champions and their roles:
- Faye Johnson Kendrick – Lead
- Leslie Alford
- Betty Ost-Everley
- H. Ray Thomas
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Missouri Attorney General’s Office
- Legal Aid of Western Missouri – Jeff Williams, Board Member
- City of Kansas City, MO Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department
- Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City
- Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
- Institute of Real Estate Management – Kansas City Chapter
- Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors