North Texas Daily

Roden: City Council taking steps to address tenants’ concerns

Roden: City Council taking steps to address tenants’ concerns

Roden: City Council taking steps to address tenants’ concerns
September 08
09:33 2016

Following the outcry against Scott Brown Properties, the Denton city council is taking steps toward addressing regulation of the Denton housing market, city council member Kevin Roden said.

Roden is looking into how Denton can be modeled after other cities in North Texas that have ordinances and regulations to prevent predatory housing. Though no formal meeting has been set to discuss the issues tenants have had with their properties, Roden hopes to have a conversation that’s fair to all parties.

The North Texas Daily posted a story this summer that examined the claims of previous and current residents of Scott Brown Properties. Hundreds of people responded, and now, the local government may take action.

“To me this is just another example of our lack of [regulation],” Roden said. “What I asked for, specifically asked for, is to identify what tools Denton does have and what we don’t have in order to be able to address these kinds of problems when they come up.”

Roden does, however, expect push-back from Denton property owners. Previous discussions on regulating property owners have fallen on deaf ears, or just outright stopped by the property owners themselves. The debate is ultimately between more or less regulation; more or less government.

“I will say that the folks in town, who own significant amount of rental properties, over the years have become pretty organized against such rules,” Roden said. “[They feel] that it would get too expensive, or that the government would have more oversight and what not. I would imagine that a lot of the people that manage property do a good job of it and there’s probably a way to create an ordinance that doesn’t penalize them but gives us the tools to deal with and step in when there are problems.”

Roden identified one tool that would be beneficial for tenants: registration. He said he would like all businesses that manage rental properties to register and give the city of Denton a gauge on where each rent property is. He added registration would make it easier for city inspectors to do their jobs.

“Anytime a tenant or an owner invites someone from code enforcement into their property they can come in,” Roden said. “But it really sets up a strange dynamic between the tenant and the landlord. The system in place right now is that if we get a complaint and we get permission from the tenant we can conduct an inspection. That’s not good enough.”

Roden said the way a rental property should be treated is like a commercial building in a neighborhood, because it is a commercial operation. The current regulations in place for commercial properties is more comprehensive than residential properties.

Denton’s code says that if an office is being set up, it must go through steps like inspections and a submission of certificates of occupancy to allow work to take place in that office. The code for residential properties is not as strict. Roden noticed this discrepancy between office buildings and residential properties. Currently, the city doesn’t have to know where rental properties are, or have to inspect them. 

“If we’re interested so much in the health and safety of people in business locations and we have all these rules and regulations, yet I can move a family with little kids into a house and the city’s got no interest in inspecting that property?” Roden said. “That seems a little odd to me. I would think we would probably have more of an interest in the safety of a family than we would in the safety of someone who works at an office.”

Featured Image: People gather in the Denton City Council chambers. Kristen Watson 

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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