When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners discussed a possible rental property program that could include licensing for landlords.

When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners discussed a possible rental property program that could include licensing for landlords.

No decision was made during Tuesday's meeting, which was considered a study session.

Mayor Mark Preisinger said commissioners will be discussing the issue more in the future.

"We are nowhere near taking final action," he said.

Commissioner Larry Dedeke encouraged his fellow commissioners to take their time and do the program right the first time.

Preisinger offered examples of possible fees for licenses for landlords. He said the owner of five or less rental properties could be charged $50 and landlords with more than five properties could be charged $100.

Preisinger said there is an existing mediation program in Leavenworth for complaints from tenants against landlords. The program is handled through the Welcome Central agency.

"There is a system in place," he said. "But realistically, it's probably not being used very often."

If the city implements a licensing program, the city should take over the mediation of complaints, Preisinger said.

Commissioner Mike Griswold suggested referring to the service as a resolution program rather than mediation.

Preisinger said commissioners would have to put teeth in a licensing program, suggesting that in some cases a landlord's license could be suspended.

Commissioners have previously discussed a rental inspection program. But Preisinger argued that the city would need a large staff of inspectors if the commission were to require properties to be inspected before they are rented.

He said such a requirement would have a negative impact on landlords if they have to wait on inspections.

"I think it just stifles business," Preisinger said.

Dedeke said he believes fees ranging from $50 to $100 are ridiculous. He said only a small percentage of landlords are associated with problems with rental properties in the city.

"We don't need to attack the good landlords," he said. "We need to work with the bad landlords."

City Manager Paul Kramer said fees could be an incentive to comply with an annual license program. He said landlords who do not comply could be charged late fees.

Griswold said there are residents in rental properties whose safety, health and welfare are questionable.

He said it would be hard for the city to implement a rental property program without a licensing component.

Mayor Pro-Tem Jermaine Wilson questioned how city officials would be able to hold landlords accountable without a licensing program.

"I think we definitely need to implement something," he said.

During their discussion, commissioners heard from several members of the audience including local landlords.

Kevin Albee with A&K Rentals said there already are regulations in place under state law that deal with landlords making repairs.

He suggested the city would receive a large number of tenant complaints once people learn a new mediation or resolution program has been implemented. He said most of the complaints would come from disgruntled tenants.

"It is going to be a huge hassle for you," he said.

Kramer suggested the city could create a process that would require tenants to do work, such as filling out paperwork, in order to lodge a complaint.

Albee noted that the city previously put in place a rental registration program. He argued the registration program would accomplish the same goals as a licensing program.

He said a fine for non-compliance was included in the rental registration program.

"So it exists," he said. "It just never got enforced."

City Clerk Carla Williamson said there is a $150 per day fine for someone who is out of compliance with the registration program. But she said her office has never sent a large bill to anyone for violating the program.

Williamson said she does not know the amount of man hours that would be required to clean up a database that was created when the registration program was implemented about 10 years ago.

She said there is no requirement in the registration program for people to reregister. She said landlords who are registered are supposed to update the city regarding changes to information they provided when they registered. Some people do provide such notification.

"But that is not the norm," Williamson said.

For future discussions, city officials will focus on outlining a possible conflict resolution program and licensing program, Kramer said.

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