UPDATE: Committee hears bill requiring regular safety inspections on rental units

UPDATE:

On Tuesday, the Urban Affairs Committee heard stories from renters living in some serious mouse and bug infestations.

“The child is crying every night,” Naima Abdi said.  “I go to the hospital…they find a cockroach in the ears of my child.  And amazingly, those apartments…every time they send inspections by Omaha Housing Authorities, they would tell us that they pass.”

“Not too long ago, I visited families in the Omaha area that had entire walls — from floor to ceiling — covered in black mold,” said Hannah Wyble of the group Restoring Dignity.  “Walls and windows were literally separating from the building to the point where people were stuffing grocery bags and rags into the large cracks to keep out the winter air.”

They were testifying in favor of a bill by Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha.

Wayne said it would make it mandatory for cities like Lincoln and Omaha to hold regular safety inspections on rental units every three years instead of with the current complaint–based system.

“Let the city of Omaha know — and Lincoln — that we’re serious about making sure that affordable safe housing, including rental property, should be provided by any property owner and must comply with those codes that the cities have adopted,” Wayne said.

Landlords said the bill would have negative effects on tenants.

“Increased regulations and fees would push up the rents,” said John Chatelain, president of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.  “I see tenants are already struggling with high rents because property values have gone up and real estate taxes have gone up.”

Others said such legislation would punish landlords who take care of their tenants.

“Good landlords abide by city code anyway when the market demands it,” said Jerry Banks, an Omaha area landlord.  “Bad operators avoid it in every way possible, including registration.  You can not legislate morality.”

Wayne said he wants to get this bill to the floor as soon as possible.  It has to pass the Urban Affairs Committee first.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha has a bill to address filthy – and even dangerous living conditions — for apartment tenants.

That bill had its day in front of the Urban Development Committee Tuesday.

Renters who support Wayne’s bill told the committee some of these homes have serious mouse and bug infestations.

“The child is crying every night,” Naima Abdi said.  “I go to the hospital…they find a cockroach in the ears of my child.  And amazingly, those apartments…every time they send inspections by Omaha Housing Authorities, they would tell us that they pass.”

Wayne said his bill would help address that by making it mandatory for cities like Lincoln and Omaha to have regular safety inspections on rental units.

Landlords said the bill would have negative effects on tenants.

“Increased regulations and fees would push up the rents,” said John Chatelain, president of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.  “I see tenants are already struggling with high rents because property values have gone up and real estate taxes have gone up.”

Others said such legislation would punish good landlords.

Wayne said he wants to get this bill to the floor as soon as possible.  The Urban Development Committee must pass it first.

Categories: Top Stories