In a move that is being touted as historic, Kansas City, Missouri City Council has passed a much anticipated tenant bill of rights. For landlords, it’s not as bad as it could have been.
Tenant rights have been in the forefront for some time in this city which is popular with investors and where 46% of residents are renters. The city acknowledges a history of racial segregation, and lawmakers express concern that mold, lack of heat, inadequate ventilation, infestations, and lead paint in substandard housing is exacerbating chronic illnesses such as asthma and lung disease.
As such, much of the new rental regulations focus on property condition, requiring landlords to meet basic property standards. Additionally, the city has expanded anti-discrimination protections to “protected traits”, which include actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, mental or physical disability, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, gender expression, ethnic background, or being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
The new Kansas City ordinance prohibits discrimination based on source of income, including government assistance or voucher programs. However, the City Council stopped short of requiring landlord participation in these otherwise voluntary programs. That gives landlords some breathing room as tenant advocates vow to change that next year.
The regulations also impact tenant screening, but not to the extent seen in other cities, such as Portland, which recently restricted using criminal background or poor credit to reject applicants. Kansas City’s new rules allow landlords to run tenant screening reports, including criminal background checks and eviction history, but require landlords to consider “additional information” provided by the applicant that may overcome negative reports. That includes factors like the severity of a criminal conviction, the length of time since an eviction, and what the applicant has done to rehabilitate.
Landlords may not be happy with the measures but some are relieved that the impact of the proposed law was tempered through amendments. The president of a local landlord association told the news that the new rules are “far more tolerable” than initially feared, but says that he and other landlords now are wary of investing in the city’s rental market.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.