CITY of Tulsa looking at regulating landlords

Wednesday, May 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa city council plan to regulate rental property that some say could cut into the number of available apartments. KOTV's Emory Bryan says the city council might soon require people with rental property to be licensed to do business.

The city claims it would help shut down slumlords, but the industry is worried the plan could backfire. Every time Carole Randel looks over her neighborhood, she sees an eyesore. "It's bad in the neighborhood, it's a drug house, they keep boarding it up, they won't tear it down or anything." She's two doors down from a boarded up and abandoned property with an out of town owner. The city wants to make sure neighbors and tenants of such property have a local contact for complaints, and wants another tool to force improvements.

A city council committee is discussing licensing rental property owners, and requiring them to have a local agent if the owner lives out of town. Mayor's aide, Dwain Midget says, "Having this fee associated with rental property gives us a tool to deny property owners who are renting property the right to do business in the city of Tulsa." But property owners are concerned the city will charge everyone to force changes from just a few. Scott Gardner with Apartment Association of Tulsa says, "We're in a business and the people who don't maintain their properties aren't going to be in business very long. We feel like it's focused on a small number of properties, but it's going to impact everybody." The city is considering a $25 - $50 license fee for property owners, but the industry thinks it would lead to inspection fees as a requirement to renew the license. Carole Randel is for a clampdown on rental property, if it will clean up her neighborhood. "Hey could build a nice little home there, it's a nice neighborhood and that's all boarded up. My kids are here on weekends and I don't want that stuff around my kids."

People with complaints about rental property have a couple of options depending on whether or not the property is occupied. The Health Department handles most concerns about occupied homes. Their number is 595-4200. Neighborhood Inspections handles complaints about unoccupied rental property, and the exterior of occupied units, such as overgrown weeds or debris in the yard. Their number is 596-7698.

This licensing plan is still in a city council committee, it comes up next for discussion in three weeks.