KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A California-based company that owns apartment complexes in Kansas City is retracting its request for residents to pay up for basic rental inspection costs after learning it's against city code.
"If you can't get through to your landlord to say, 'You have given us a piece of paper that you're asking me to do something that's illegal', then that's a problem," said Beccah, a tenant at one of Landmark Realty's KC properties. She asked to only be identified by her first name.
She found a note from management wedged in her door Thursday. It asked tenants to pay a fee for the new "Healthy Homes Rental Inspection Program," implemented by the KCMO Health Department.
It said: "This program includes an annual fee of $20 per unit, which we are passing on to residents at all of our properties."
But that's illegal, according to the health department.
"For someone who's caring for either aging relatives or children, that could mean food for your family," Beccah said. "This is not an insignificant amount of money for families who live here and throughout Kansas City."
In a letter to Landmark and regional manager Jonathan Marcus, the health department wrote, "It is a direct violation of [this] city ordinance and viewed as retaliation."
Marcus and Landmark employees declined an interview with FOX4 but said they "didn't know it was illegal."
But Beccah doesn't buy it.
"They could claim that they didn't know that this was a violation of the Healthy Homes ordinance, but it's pretty clear that it was," she said.
Marcus has since put out an official retraction of the initial notice.
"How is this going to make it better," Beccah asked, "having another document that has some kind of strange legal terms in it when you could have just avoided it by following the law that's set before you?"
That retraction notice was placed in tenant mailboxes at Ashton Place Apartments. Other Landmark properties in the metro include Willow Creek, Canyon Creek and Township Apartments.
About five people did pay the $20 fee. Marcus said Landmark has since credited those tenants' accounts.
"I still think that it was a frankly despicable thing to do," Beccah said. "It was illegal. It was not right to even give the notice."