Proposed legislation would create landlord registry

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska state Sen. Justin Wayne introduced a bill on Jan. 10 in the Unicameral that would require Omaha to enforce laws intended to prevent issues similar to what happened at the Yale Park apartments.

Wayne said he can't keep waiting for the city council to act.

"We need to do something. We need to do something now, and we can't wait," he said.

The city evacuated nearly 100 families at Yale Park after finding thousands of code violations.

City officials said they would come up with a way to try and ensure the events would never happen again, but Wayne said the city should have acted by now.

"If we have building codes, why aren't we enforcing them? And in order to enforce them we need to have regular inspections," the senator said.

Wayne's bill would force both Omaha and Lincoln to set up a landlord registry if it is signed into legislation. That would include mandatory inspections of rental units every three years.

The plan is based off of what other cities have put in place.

"We looked at Iowa and some other cities have done it and have met with community leaders and this is kind of a mixture or combination of things," Wayne said.

Omaha City Councilman Brinker Harding is on the city's planning committee. He said he doesn't believe mandatory inspections are the way to go.

"I don't want to be held to an arbitrary timeline and come to a solution that isn't well vetted and doesn't work for the City of Omaha," Harding said.

He said the committee sees too many unanswered questions.

"I certainly don't want to bring something forward just for the sake of bringing it forward. i want to make sure we have something that's effective, and is affordable and enforceable too," Harding said.

The councilman said the committee is trying to get an accurate number of rental properties before moving forward.

Wayne's bill only stipulates that the law exist. It does not address the amount of fees or any penalties for non-compliance. That would be up to the city.