ICON supports Chronic Nuisance Landlord Ordinance

Posted on 03/19/16 No Comments

Springfield ICON submitted the following guest editorial to the SJ-R that was published Saturday, March 19 in the SJ-R.

Look for more on problem properties coming soon.

It’s time to fix our problem properties

What’s it like to see the house next door sell for half of what it did 10 years ago? What’s it like to call the city to report the same garbage, the same weeds, the same broken windows month after month and year after year? Take a moment to imagine what that feels like. Many residents in our older neighborhoods don’t have to take a moment — they live it every day.

Some folks will say, “That’s not my issue — my neighborhood doesn’t have those problems.” At recent city ward meetings, we heard that all areas of the city are affected by limited city resources — for snow removal, for recycling, for infrastructure. City officials tell us there are not enough city resources to proactively address problem properties. And yet, a group of repeat offenders has been allowed to overuse city resources for decades.

Irresponsible landlords profit by choosing business practices that result in multiple substandard rental properties throughout our city. Those practices reduce their costs and increase their revenue at a huge cost to all the rest of us.

That cost is misery and reduced property values for their neighbors. That cost is hyper-vigilance and declining neighborhood appeal for neighborhood leaders. That real hard-dollar cost, to the entire city, is the time for inspectors, law enforcement, administrative court, city legal services, solid waste and garbage removal, and weed clean up. That long-term vicious cycle cost is reduced tax revenue, reduced school revenue and neighborhoods that are less attractive to home buyers and new businesses.

Problem property owners who understand how the system works take advantage — they fail to maintain a property, are cited for violations, and then abate the problem at the last minute to avoid fines. The result? Properties that are out of compliance with city code most of the time and that require limited city resources to force compliance some of the time.

An ordinance will soon be coming before the City Council to hold irresponsible property owners accountable. Its goal is to stop those who choose to ignore city code, who bring problem tenants into our neighborhoods and who impoverish neighborhoods in the process.

ICON appreciates and partners with responsible landlords who invest in our neighborhoods, take care of their properties and rent to good tenants who we can welcome as new neighbors. We are pleased to support an ordinance that will hold bad landlords accountable for their negative influence on our city without negatively affecting responsible property owners and good landlords. Indeed, addressing the worst landlords would be likely to improve the general impression of landlords that has become tarnished by the actions of a few.

We encourage you to call or email your alderman in support of the Chronic Nuisance Rental Property ordinance. It’s time to fix our problem with problem properties.