Kansas City Council puts ‘Tenant Bill of Rights’ discussion on hold until December

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City leaders are hitting pause on a hot button issue designed to protect renters.

The so-called “Tenant Bill of Rights” has been debated for weeks. On Wednesday, Mayor Quinton Lucas and KC Tenants held a joint news conference to talk about what’s next.

Lucas calls what’s in the ordinance and the grassroots movement behind it historic. Dozens of renters from around Kansas City helped craft the measure, which they said is long overdue.

A special committee was set to hold another hearing on the proposed “Tenant Bill of Rights” Wednesday afternoon. It’s now been tabled until next month.

But Lucas said he wanted to come forward and dispel some of the myths about the measure.

The ordinance aims to ban outright discrimination of tenants based on their past, including criminal and eviction history. What is doesn’t do is prevent landlords from running criminal and financial background checks and then determining whether to rent to that person.

The mayor said it’s all about giving renters a chance, and he wants anyone with feedback to come forward with solutions.

“There has been an amazing amount of work to say that this is legal, that this is fair and that this is right,” Lucas said.

“So instead of obfuscating, instead of saying it just sounds bad, instead of saying this is just crazy, come to the table. My office is open. I know their office is open. Let’s have a conversation over the next several weeks about what’s really in this proposal.”

The proposal also calls for providing renters with additional protections through a new rental housing assistance unit, which would work in tandem with the health department’s healthy homes initiative.

Some landlords have expressed concern about being burned by bad tenants who don’t pay rent and tear up property. The mayor insisted that nothing about this ordinances changes their ability to evict or go after bad renters.

The Tenant Bill of Rights is now set for a  hearing on Dec. 2, and it will be a rare evening meeting at 5 p.m. to try to accommodate as many people as possible.

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