[Durham INC] Why Durham needs a landlord registry -- to include property managers (Herald-Sun)
bwatu at yahoo.com
Fri May 1 13:04:39 EDT 2009
Correction in CAPS...
Nearly half of Durham residences are rental properties.
The problem is neither the City, nor the County, has an online registry that lists property managers.
They list owners -- but not property MANAGERS. <--
When we contact absentee landlords, they don't always respond. Having a local contact, such as the property manager, would be a helpful resource.
The column below has more background.
have a good weekend,
Guest column: Why Durham needs a landlord registry
by Kelly Jarrett, Herald-Sun, 23 September 2005
Nearly half of Durham residences are rental properties. Therefore, renters, homeowners, and the owners and managers of rental property must work together to promote the vitality and well-being of Durham neighborhoods. Inspired by a city-sponsored landlord training workshop, I developed (and the neighborhood association adopted) criteria for identifying good property managers in my neighborhood. Fortunately, there are rental property managers committed to playing a positive role in our community, and we'll identify them and our evaluation criteria on our website so that potential tenants and absentee landlords will be able to find good property managers. Other neighborhood associations have expressed interest in adopting this program-a development that could direct owners and tenants to those property managers who make positive contributions to our communities and pressure others to be more responsive and responsible to us. Recently, I presented a
resolution asking the city to require property managers to list their rental properties by address in a public registry to the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association. The OWDNA board and the Citywide Partners Against Crime group have adopted the resolution. It is also being considered in other neighborhoods and will soon be put before the Inter-Neighborhood Council. [INC later endorsed the resolution]
We need this registry for more than loud party and overgrown lawn complaints. When there is a drive-by shooting at a rental property, police are called and the incident investigated. But because there is currently no registry for locating property managers, in order to inform them of such incidents so that they may take appropriate actions, we must enter the address into a city website to find contact information for the owner. This happened last summer in my neighborhood, and when we contacted the owners, who lived in Maryland, they were disturbed to learn about the shooting, knew little about local property managers, and were grateful for our referral to a company with a reputation for screening tenants carefully and maintaining properties well. We're fortunate that the owner was receptive to our concerns and suggestions-but only because we contacted the owner do we now know who manages this rental property.
While things worked out well in our case, many times those plagued by violence, crime, gang and drug activity, or disruptive tenants in rental properties are not so lucky. Renters have a right to live in safe, well-maintained properties that meet housing code standards and a responsibility to abide by laws and ordinances. Landlords have a responsibility to see that their properties meet code standards and a right to evict when tenants engage in criminal activity, violate city ordinances, violate rental agreements, or don't pay rent. Police and city inspectors can investigate crimes and code violations, but it is the responsibility of landlords and property managers to evict tenants who engage in criminal activity, violate city ordinances, or otherwise violate their rental agreements. Too often, this responsibility is ignored, and law-abiding citizens suffer the consequences of unresponsive, absentee owners who have no interest in what happens in their
properties as long as they get their rent checks. A public registry will help Durham citizens easily identify and contact companies that manage rental properties to encourage and support them in evicting tenants whose behavior threatens public safety and welfare.
Property managers routinely list available properties on websites and real estate listings. City housing inspectors keep track of managers of properties reported for violations. What this resolution asks is that this information be centralized and made accessible to the public.
My own neighborhood and neighborhood association, like many others in Durham, is about evenly split between renters and homeowners. Apple Realty's Chris McKeel and I agree that strong relationships between neighbors are the foundation of healthy neighborhoods. These relationships happen in neighborhoods across Durham. Renters and owners are neighbors and friends. We share tools and recipes, collect each other's mail and newspapers during vacations, and trade plantings from our gardens-and we work together to address shared concerns in our communities. Problems arise when it is not possible to establish these relationships, when friendly overtures are met with indifference or even hostility. And of course, criminal activity changes the equation. As do abandoned or empty rental properties. My motivation in undertaking the Recommended Property Manager Initiative and proposing the city registry, which I don't think was captured clearly in the Herald-Sun
article, is to build ongoing relationships with property managers so that we can address problems together before they require reports to police or city inspectors. I believe that positive, proactive, collaborative relationships between renters, owners, property managers, and city officials are necessary for Durham's many diverse neighborhoods to thrive. By adopting the registry resolution, the City of Durham will provide us with one tool for working together for the greater good of our community by addressing problems that contribute to criminal activity and neighborhood decline.
Kelly Jarrett is vice president of the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association.
More information about the INC-list