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Omaha groups battle over Yale Park regulation, inspection

Posted at 10:18 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 23:59:03-04

The group Omaha Together One Community, also known at OTOC, gathered outside the now-closed Yale Park Apartments, calling for changes to the way the city regulates rental properties.

OTOC wants the city to implement a rental property registration inspection ordinance and add property inspectors to hold landlords like Yale Park owner Kay Anderson accountable. 

"La Vista, De Moines, Boulder, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Council Bluffs and Carter Lake use [this system]," Dennis Walsh, OTOC housing action team member, said. "In fact, every city in Iowa over 1,500 does."

RELATED: Code violations at Yale Park Apartments now total 2,000-3,000

City leaders say creating a rental property registration and inspection notice is not that easy. Under a federal court order, the city cannot act on a code violation complaint without the name and contact information of the person making the complaint.

"I know the mayor's office a lot of times will receive a complaint and send it up, and I will indicate that it is not a valid complaint because I don't have the phone number or name of the individual," chief city housing inspector Scott Lane said. "And then they will reach back to that individual or person and get that information and send me a valid complaint."

The Metro Omaha Property Owners Association says it opposes a rental property registration. It is concerned the city will investigate properties without notice.

Association president John Chatelain says the city violated Anderson's due process and that tenants paying for regular inspections are not necessary.

"We oppose it because it's not necessary," Chatelain said. "The current system is not broken, it works providing it's followed, which it was not followed in the Yale Park situation."

Another group is siding with the property owners association. The Omaha Board of Realtors says the city should stick to its current enforcement process.