Many renters fear retribution from landlords if they report violations. Ordinance 19-52 allows top-to-bottom inspections of a problem landlord’s property if there are two or more violations at any of the units at that property over 12 months. The system is still complaint-based, but it protects every renter at a problem property from retaliation because it is the city that automatically initiates the ensuing inspections of all units — not the renters.
This is a targeted approach that doesn’t lead to more inspections for properties in compliance. And it doesn’t change anyone’s rights under the Landlord Tenant Act.
By protecting the limited and finite number of affordable rental units in Lincoln from deteriorating to the point of condemnation and destruction. Not everyone can afford to live in newer housing. Many of the rentals that are affordable to low-income families become affordable as the existing housing supply ages, and new housing units are built elsewhere.
Ordinance 19-52 ensures that rental units with violations are inspected before those known violations lead to condemnation and destruction. It protects the current — and long-term — supply of affordable rental housing in our city.
Renters, good landlords, and neighbors. A registry will result in a much more accurate picture of the true number and actual condition of Lincoln’s rental properties. A registry also allows inspectors to act more quickly and efficiently when they are called on to protect the quality of rental housing.
Only by getting a true grasp of the problem’s scope can we be fully able to address it. The alternative is to rely on admittedly incomplete information while problem properties steadily become unmanageable. Ordinance 19-52 is an important step toward having consistent and actionable information.
This actually has been an urgent matter for some time, but few renting Lincolnites have felt empowered to bring it to light. Collective Impact Lincoln has conducted deep conversations with more than 9,000 Lincolnites since 2017, and from the very beginning, humane and affordable housing has been a constant concern. On the streets of our core neighborhoods, there is no debate over whether there is a humane housing problem.
Too often, cities wait until it is too late, and then painful and expensive action becomes necessary to deal with widespread problems. Fortunately, Lincoln is not most communities.