Small Town Renters Want Inspectors

If renters have complaints about living conditions, who are they going to call? In Omaha, a city inspector will investigate and, if needed, order repairs. That's not always the case for tenants in smaller towns.

Only stuffed animals lie on the bunk bed where 10-year-old Mystica Harvey is afraid to sleep. Mystica says, "I’m worried my ceiling will fall because it has so much spots on it."

Water stains dot the ceiling in the rental duplex in Louisville that has a partial new roof. Tenants say most of the shingles were torn off in mid-May and it's taking way too long to finish the roof.

Landlord Dick Berner says he hired a different tenant to replace the duplex roof but the contractor had family issues. Berner said, "I guess we kept thinking it was going to be done and we didn't think it would drag on like it did."

The duplex neighbor says the roof shows why small towns need code enforcement. Linda Torrison said, "Somebody who comes in every three to six months in rental properties to be sure everything is up to code."

Berner has about 120, mostly small-town, rental units and a recently hired maintenance supervisor completing repair orders. Kevin Adams said, "I think most of the properties are up to code, safe and in good shape."

Some tenants disagree.Tonya Castillo said, " I want somebody I can go to and somebody that's going to be able to be on my side or anybody's side that is a tenant."

But would the landlord and maintenance man want a code inspector issuing them orders? Landlord Dick Berner said, " Maybe we should try it. I'd be for it."

Back to the duplex. The landlord says a new roofer has been hired but after almost two months tenants see no one rushing to finish the job and the town has no one to make them.

The Louisville mayor says nuisance complaints like overgrown yards will be addressed. But the town doesn't have codes on rental properties or the manpower for inspections. Mayor Alan Mueller says that is something the community will look at in the future.

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