Group discusses landlord accountability proposal

Nuisances could result in legal action against landlords.
Thursday, November 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:26 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

A proposed city ordinance that would force landlords to curb nuisance behavior on their properties received mixed reactions from the Nuisance Party and Property Task Force and realty groups on Wednesday night.

“It’s like going after the guy who sold the gun when there is a murder,” said Terry Alexander, owner of Boone Property Management.

Alexander said his company, which includes about 250 college residences all over Columbia, aggressively handles criminal activity on its properties, but he said there are landlords in Columbia who don’t do enough to stop repeated crimes on their properties.

Cavanaugh Noce, task force member and president of the East Campus Neighborhood Association, said the proposed ordinance is too broad.

“It’s an awful big bite,” he said. “We need to address specific problems.”

The Wednesday meeting was the first time the task force heard a presentation of the ordinance by its creator, Columbia attorney John Clark. Clark waited four years for a chance to tout his proposal in front of a city committee.

Clark’s ordinance, which was modeled on a similar version in Portland, Ore., lists 14 nuisance activities including murder, assault, sexual offenses, drug and alcohol violations, gambling and peace disturbances.

If the police chief receives two police reports of criminal activity on a single property within 60 days or five violations within 180 days, the property owner may be issued a warning.

If the landlord does not take steps to stop the crimes, a third violation within 60 days or sixth within 180 days can result in the police chief labeling the property a “chronic nuisance property” with the city recorder.

The next step, given no landlord compliance or work to end the problems, could result in legal action. The property could be closed for six months to one year and fines could be levied.

The task force is also working to draft an ordinance specifically targeting parties, especially in areas with large student populations.

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