Wichita City Council looking at strengthening city code on rental property conditions to fight bad apartment conditions
For almost a week now you’ve seen the conditions inside both vacant and occupied apartments at Emery Gardens in South Wichita.
However, Councilman Brandon Johnson says this was just the latest in a string of bad conditions at rental properties across Wichita. "I've seen it in multiple apartment complexes, that's just not acceptable. We need to be able to do more about it.”
Johnson says he and other council members like Mike Hoheisel, who toured Emery with him last week, have been working with the MABCD and other city staff on changes to city code to better help inspectors deal with bad apartments.
"What are the gaps that we have on enforcement, and then what other additional powers do we need to be able to make sure people have decent living spaces.”
One change? Adding black mold to city code as something inspectors can have apartments take care of. Johnson says he was shocked when he found out there was nothing on the books about black mold.
“You would think black mold would be, but I think that stems from you know, the city, not necessarily having a health department and this is more looking at just building inspections.”
Johnson says the city has been working on these codes for a few months to make sure the changes are enforceable, reasonable, and fit in with the state constitution.
"If we can make sure that folks can get out of the space, that face can that space can go through a full renovation, and then people can go back in there without being charged an arm and a leg and increased rent because the space was improved in the way it should have been in the first place. That's what we're looking at and talking about right now.”
The changes could be vital to keeping more people out of conditions like this.
“Our staff has known that there are a lot of problems out there and they're frustrated. They can't do more, so our goal as electeds is just to make sure we give them the tools to be able to do something about it so that they don't have to see the horror stories we've seen.”
Johnson says the code changes could come up for a vote in the city council as soon as early summer.
KAKE News did get a hold of the apartment's owner, you can see his response to the conditions by reading this story.