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Opinion

Hold tenants responsible

I do believe the cities are breaking people's constitutional rights. As a landlord if a tenant doesn't pay I have to follow the law to get them out. I cannot just go in and throw his personal belongings off the property. The city fines me the code violations because of the tenant. I cannot go on the tenant's property and throw his personal belongings away or have the car towed, a car is personal property, or the couch moved off the porch, whatever the code violation might be. The tenant is leasing the property off me, the property owner. The tenant has the rights to have his personal belongings on that property. I cannot violate his constitutional rights or his civil rights. I do believe in the law. And that's what makes it so hard to understand why the city attorneys allow this stuff to happen, the police writing tickets.

The city has the fire department driving around looking for code violations. That's really sad when our first responders turn their neighbors in for code violations. And I don't know how much they pay for a code officer. But the code enforcer gets paid, he has to write enough tickets to cover his salary, gas for his car, whatever insurance, and cellphones; that's a lot of tickets to write to pay for his salary and plus you have to make a profit for the city. That's a lot of tickets on the city people and landlords of the town.

This town was built before codes even existed. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled the police need a search warrant to go through somebody's garbage, until that garbage is in the back of the garbage truck. Because the garbage is personal property. Plus the city holds landlords responsible for the tenant's water usage. That is just wrong, another man responsible for another man's bill.

There should be one flat rate sewer bill and garbage. Sent to the homeowner. And the water usage should follow the tenant, I have no control over how much water he uses. And he is actually the one using the sewer. The tenant is actually the one breaking the code violation. But they prosecute the landlord, for another man breaking the codes. No matter how good a landlord you are you're going to get a bad tenant sometimes.

Even if I put code violations as the reason for eviction in the lease or contract I still have to follow the (law). Is there any landlord associations in this area? If not, I'm interested in finding someone that would like to start one. Feel free to call me at 815-200-0710 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

It's sad that we send our young men and women overseas to fight for somebody else's constitutional rights. And here at home we have our own government breaking the laws. You have no freedom. If you buy a house and you want that house vacant, your constitutional rights say you can do that. More people die or get hurt in houses that are lived in than in a vacant building. More people get hurt with cars that are street legal than in a car that is sitting on somebody's property.

I know there's certain rights you have to give up to live in a community to be neighborly. I understand that completely. But the city holds a gun to the landlord's head and says if you don't take care of the code violation the city is going to fine the landlord. And the fines can be as much as $750 per violation. And he only gives you like 15 days. By the time you get the letter you might have 12 days. You can't get your attorney to write a letter in 12 days. And the reason why the city does that is because the city has no rights going on the tenant's property and towing the car away or throwing the garbage or moving the couch off the porch, or any other violation. Because the city knows they can be arrested because they're violating people's constitutional rights.

The city holds the landlord responsible. When in reality it's the tenants that create the problems, the code violations. But they punish the innocent person, the landlord. If the city isn't careful there's going to be a lot of empty houses. Investors are getting tired. The city is creating an environment where only slumlords can exist. They put a couple of thousand down on a house and never do nothing to it, except collect rent. They never plan on owning the house.

In a good hometown investors don't want to put up with the harassment. The city doesn't understand the landlord pays higher property taxes, state and income taxes on the money, and higher insurance rates, mortgage insurance, and interest on the investment, etc., and constantly getting stuck for back rent and legal fees. And I'm talking thousands of dollars. I must have over $30,000 in the collection agency. Not counting all the maintenance repairs.

The city needs to find a way to hold the tenants responsible for their own actions if they want it to stop. But my real gripe is how can the law allow this to happen. The city attorneys are guilty and city officers are all violating the law. Maybe even the federal law of fair housing equal act. And I'm probably going to get harassed about writing this letter. But the public has to be informed. There's no politicians that care.

JIM TURNER resides in Streator.

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