Renters, neighbors frustrated with Lawrence landlord with history of code violations as major problems go unfixed

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- There's a hole in the wall and mold on the ceiling. When it rains, the basement floods.

"We literally had three feet of standing water," Rhonda Quinteros said. She and her two sons have been living in their apartment since June.

Before she moves out, she wants everyone to know just how bad it is.

"We literally have a family of possum living in our attic that we have no access to," she said.

Even the outside of this house on Connecticut Street in Lawrence has serious issues. The brick sidewalk is a mess, and the roof over the porch has serous dry rot.

Neighbors like Barbara Jones have had enough.

"We called the city. We had to call the police department," Jones said.

She said nothing seems to phase the owner of this house -- Bonita Yoder of Joy Realty. Yoder owns more than 20 properties in the Kansas college town and has a lengthy history of code violations to prove it.

Ironically, even her office at 608 Kentucky has caught the ire of Lawrence code enforcement officers. The porch was in such bad shape in 2014 that city officials declared it in imminent danger of collapse.

Three years later, only some of the work has been done.

For a woman who makes money from renting property, Yoder is surprisingly difficult to reach, as Fox 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar found out.

"I can't reach her by phone," Quinteros said. Neither could Fox 4. Her voicemail was full.

Another number listed on one of Yoder's numerous "For Rent" signs spotted across town also doesn't work.

A tenant told Fox 4 the only way he can get in touch with Yoder is to physically track her down at another rental property where neighbors said Yoder has taken up residence. They said she's living in one of several rental units in this once-stately home on one of Lawrence's finer streets.

Fox 4 did finally reach Yoder. She called Fox 4 after finding our business card stuck in her office door.

She said she's been out of town a lot, dealing with the final affairs of a family member who died last summer. She said she plans to hire a property manager to help her get her rental homes back in shape and said she's had difficulty finding a stucco contractor to finally finish her office's porch.

Yoder said she was worried about how she'll pay for everything since several tenants are way behind on rent -- including Quinteros.

Yoder said she has big heart for those down on her luck, and doesn't believe her properties are the eyesore some claim. But those stuck living next to them disagree.

"I know they can't inspect every single property in the city, but it's definitely not to code," Jones said.

Lawrence code enforcement officials said as soon as they become aware of problems with any of Yoder's properties, they cite her. But neighbors said their complaints to the city have sometimes been ignored.

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