Landlord/Tenant University seeks to reduce housing disputes in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Landlords and tenants are blaming strained relationships on pandemic-related furloughs and job cuts. City officials are trying to reduce housing disputes with a Landlord/Tenant University program.

More people are having difficulty paying their rent. Meanwhile, property owners are having a hard time evicting them. That’s creating a lot of friction in the housing marketplace.

The city’s Landlord-Tenant University hopes to improve communications between all parties. Their goal is to educate both renters and landlords about the law and city codes governing property maintenance.

City inspectors are teaching tenants and landlords about property maintenance codes, illegal dumping and how to recycle properly. Sometimes it’s small issues over trash and maintenance that lead to larger disputes.

Both tenants and property owners have responsibilities, and education sessions twice a month seek to eliminate communication breakdowns that often are the source of disputes.

“Some people believe landlords are all wealthy, so, ‘Hey, if I miss a payment, they won’t miss one,'” Shawn Kirkwood, manager of the program, said. “But on the flip side of it, we have tenants who are well meaning, and they have been affected by this pandemic. So, some people think they don’t pay because they are not good people, and it’s just not the case. We want to make sure we bridge the gap, the communication gap, so they can rectify the situation.”

Some property owners are frustrated by a court process that’s been slowed to a snail’s pace because of the virus. They’ve got squatters they can’t rightfully evict.

That must be balanced against the city’s desire to avoid having the recently unemployed increase the city’s homeless population.

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