KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Renters in Kansas City may soon have more rights over their home or apartment.

The group KC Tenants wants the process of finding safe housing to be fair for everybody and to hold landlords accountable. The bill would require apartments to list any big repairs and give an estimate of what utilities cost before people sign a lease. It would also establish a hotline to call when landlords ignore major problems.

One contentious piece of the bill limits the ability of providers to refuse housing to people with a criminal history. Landlords say background checks are a part of the process, but others feel it is an unfair discrimination.

“We served our time. The patrol board let us back out and decided we were good enough to be reintegrated into society. But now society is holding it against us and won’t give us a fair shake,” said James Shelby of KC Tenants.

The group KC Tenants wants the process of finding safe housing to be fair for everybody. It also wants to see conditions improve, like at the Englewood Apartments where residents told KCTV5 News problems with mold and cockroaches went unaddressed for too long.

Some housing providers say some bad landlords ruin the reputation for everyone. While they agree with some of the points in the bill, they say some of the wording is too vague.

"If we’re not allowed to have that screening criteria, while it may benefit the tenant, we’re going to have to increase rent because our costs are going to go up," landlord Zack Nichols said.

This bill was last heard two weeks ago. Since then, KC Tenants has done more research and gathered input. Mayor Quinton Lucas said the conversations have shown there’s a lot of common ground between landlords and tenants.

“I think what everybody says is that there are a few slumlord-like bad actors that are taking advantage of people, particularly taking advantage of people in rough situations,” Lucas said. “I think good landlords in Kansas City don’t want those types of folks to proliferate, and Lord knows our tenants don’t, and Lord knows our community doesn’t.”

The special hearing was at 5 p.m. Monday at the Mohart Center. Most landlords at the meeting agreed that Kansas City needs more quality affordable housing, they just don’t agree that the proposal on the table will achieve that goal.

Some other items in the proposed ordinance would require written tenant consent before entering a unit, disclosures about utility estimates, past problems in the unit and limits on security deposits.

Mayor Quinton Lucas posted his Facebook page Monday night around 8:30 p.m. that the tenants rights package passed the Special Committee on the housing policy. 

“After several months of good-faith negotiations and compromise on all sides, #KCTenantsRights package just passed the Special Committee on Housing Policy — unanimously.

Thank you to everyone in our community who made their voices heard throughout this process. While there’s certainly more work still to be done, this is a meaningful step in the right direction.”

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