Hundreds forced to evacuate from unlivable conditions at the Yale Park Apartments have sparked calls for accountability from city leaders. City leaders want landlords in Omaha to register, and be inspected, saying it will protect tenants.
However, Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association, MOPOA, says there's no need for more regulation. The group hosted a town hall Saturday morning to discuss a registration and inspection system that could be put in place.
The registration and inspection system discussed resembles the one in place across the river in Council Bluffs, and a little bit closer to Omaha, in La Vista. However, landlords say implementing something like this is an invasion of privacy.
President of MOPOA, John Chatelain, says the mayor has now said she is in favor of a registration and inspection system already in place in nearby cities. “She would require every rental unit to be inspected and registered,” he said. A system some say is unfair to landlords and tenants because it is an invasion of privacy. “Potentially additional inspections, tracking of landlord properties and potentially going into properties with tenants maybe not having the opportunity to represent themselves,” said property owner, Lauren Brasch.
Brasch owns four properties in Omaha and Belmont with her husband. She says fixing the situation to prevent another situation like Yale Park is as easy as educating tenants about the rights they have. “Inspecting 40 additional homes a year doesn't seem like it's gonna make an impact and actually help the people that need to be helped," she said.
Dennis Walsh is a member of Omaha Together, One Community and he says the way inspections on rental properties are done now is unfair to tenants. Omaha inspectors can't begin an investigation without a formal complaint, something the new system would eliminate. “Registration inspection is the best practice throughout the country, throughout the region, as a way to overcome that tenant reluctance to complain about their situations,” said Walsh.
Deputy chief of staff for the mayor, Kevin Andersen, says right now the mayor's office is taking time to find a realistic solution to give safe, quality housing to renters. “Just making sure that they got access and understand their rights for safe quality housing as renters,” he said.
No new proposals have been submitted yet according to Andersen, so he hopes landlords, tenants and city hall can come to an agreement that makes all Omaha properties committed to being safe, quality places to live. Those that attended the meeting Saturday agree with that solution and they hope to be included in the process that comes along with that.