Homeowner complains of “petty” property violations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  Property maintenance codes are important to prevent blight and deterioration of urban core neighborhoods.

But some claim they're being harassed by citations for minor issues while larger problems go unchecked.

Many older homes in the Prospect corridor are in constant need of repair and upkeep.

But Joseph Jackson says he's frustrated to receive citations for what he calls petty issues such as leaving a cooler on his porch or piling up sticks in his yard.

Jackson participated in a neighborhood clean up at the end of August, and agreed to allow volunteers to pile up branches on his property until city crews could haul them away.

He says there are much more serious problems that should be the focus of inspectors' attention.

"He went after my parents for a mat being over the bannister," Jackson said. "A mat! We’ve got houses that are open entry houses that need demolition, houses that are burned, rank high weeds in neighborhoods, but he comes after somebody for a mat."

A spokesman for Kansas City Neighborhoods and Housing Services says homeowners such as Jackson are not being unfairly targeted. He says inspectors have a duty to report all violations they find to make city neighborhoods better.

"It seems like the people who live in the city are the ones who are targeted," Jackson said. "We have thousands, in the Santa Fe neighborhood, we have people who own property that live in Hawaii to Europe. But why is it that it’s only the people who live in this neighborhood, the absentee landlords and out-of-town landlords don’t come to court, but nothing is done about them."

The city says out-of-town and absentee owners are harder to track down, but a new Missouri law may help change that.

Property owners can no longer register as limited liability corporations but now must provide a name and contact information.