Letter to the Editor

Your view: Improving Sikeston

Friday, August 27, 2004

To citizens of Sikeston:

In 1994, a group of citizens (homeowners and tenants) came to the City Council, asking that something be done about the deteriorization of neighborhoods. Old houses and buildings that were in bad condition, yards with trash and old cars presented an impression of a non-concerned city and gave snakes, rats and other rodents a place to live.

After working with a committee made up of tenants, homeowners, landlords and various professionals for six years, the Council was asked to adopt an ordinance that would clean up the city. The Council decided to adopt an ordinance which forgave the violations for almost three years, which gave everyone a chance to correct their problems. During that time, many properties were improved. But some citizens did not take our ordinance seriously. As a result, our city (and rightly so) decided to get tough.

I personally agree with the Zero Tolerance because it levels the playing field for each of us - tenant and landlord. From a child, I was taught we make choices and choices have consequences. If we choose to ignore the law, we must be ready to accept the results. Also, I have observed when property is kept repaired and looking good from the outside, you attract a better quality applicant.

Further, as a property manager, landlord and real estate professional, I have found there are benefits to Zero Tolerance. We have better rentals which results in better tenants. In reality, there will also be problem tenants but at the same time, there will always be problem landlords. Therefore, the city ordinance was passed with teeth.

Yet some landlords want to blame the city for their problem tenants. Well, from my viewpoint it is the responsibility of the landlord or property manager to ensure applicants are quality people. Although this is time consuming, it makes money in the long run because tenants with a bad reputation will move out of our community if they can't find a place to rent. Rather than blaming the city for poor tenants, experience has taught me to call a previous (not the present) landlord when checking applications. If they would not rent to that tenant again, you have an honest answer and probably should not rent to that applicant either. My landlords prefer missing a few days' rent to having quality renters and fewer non-payers and hard-to-remove tenants.

That way I, as a property manager or owner, do not have to waste time and money to collect rent or evict tenants.

I know this is not a popular subject, but today's actions affect our families, our employment and our future housing. Everybody wants more good paying jobs in town. Well, to get them, we must have a clean, law-abiding community that presents a good-looking appearance in all areas of town.

I personally say thank you to all homeowners, landlords and tenants who have helped clean up our city. Nobody said it would be easy, but it is definitely worth it. My personal goal is to have a "shining" community. Please make it yours!

Sue Rogers