Nuisance Properties and the Actions Being Taken

police carWe have all experienced neighbors who could be labeled as nuisances’ right?  In Rapid City South Dakota, it has become such an issue that city council members and law enforcement officials are making a new push to identify nuisance rental properties ”” including those at, or near where crimes take place ”” and to put in place a mechanism that can assess fees and pull rental licenses from landlords with repeat violations who don’t agree to remedy them. They are keeping in mind that landlords have property rights and are concerned that the city will be infringing on those rights with tougher nuisance regulations.

Monica Vernon city council woman expresses, “We believe in property rights, but we also believe in the rights of neighborhoods, other property owners shouldn’t be subjected to nuisance properties.”

The latest City Hall attempt to clamp down on nuisance rental properties, nuisance landlords and nuisance tenants is being modeled after programs in Davenport, Iowa City, Dubuque and elsewhere.

Here is a sample of how the program would work:

  • A central reporting system would be used to inform landlords each time an issue comes up at one of their properties, whether it is a police call or a violation of city housing, zoning or animal ordinances.
  • The system would assess points sufficient to label a property a nuisance with repeat violations.
  • A nuisance abatement coordinator would work with landlords to come up with a plan to abate the nuisance. Landlords would be billed for city costs related to the nuisance and could have a rental license pulled if they don’t work to remedy the problems.
  • The program would ask landlords to take part in a training program and require landlords to do criminal background checks on prospective tenants, either on their own or through a city-provided service.

Police Capt. Steve O’Konek and Kevin Ciabatti, the city’s building services manager, talked to the council committees on Tuesday about how much it costs the city to continually send police officers and city zoning and housing officials to the worst of the city’s nuisance properties.

O’Konek singled out five apartment complexes in the city, noting that each had hundreds of calls for police service in each of the last three years, a cost of which was estimated at $190 an hour per call. However, program does not relieve the landlords of their duties to do background checks , it will just kick in when extreme measures need to be taken, whether the cause is the landlord, or the tenant.

Article ideas taken from Rick Smith, Oct 19,2012, Gazette.

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