Landlord seeks board's advice in rent dispute

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's not unusual for citizens to come to the Concordia Board of Aldermen with requests for assistance, but the board's ability to help is sometimes limited by law.

This was the case at the board's most recent meeting when property owner Gary Brown came asking for help in evicting tenants who had fallen behind on their rent.

Brown told the board that he had been trying unsuccessfully to get the renters to move for five months. Most recently he had set a deadline of Dec. 19. When he arrived on Dec. 20, he was upset to discover the renters were still in the house.

By his own admission, a heated argument ensued and the police were eventually called. Brown said he was upset that not only did the police not help in evicting the tenants, but the officer issued him a citation at the scene.

Alderman Kevin Reinwald suggested that Brown would be better off pursuing the matter in court where an order of eviction could be issued. At that point, county law enforcement would be able to assist him in removing the tenants.

"That's a $600 document and that's why rent is so high," Brown said referring to the legal fees associated in obtaining the order. "Isn't there any other way the police could help me out?"

Aldermen Mark Schnakenberg, himself a property owner, said he did not believe that state law would allow the city to intervene in the matter.

"I try to avoid the legal system myself," Schnakenberg said. "Unfortunately, I think it's your only avenue."

As to the matter of Brown being issued a citation by Concordia police, Schnakenberg said he would like the matter reviewed to ensure the department is "handling things properly."

City Administrator Dale Klussman suggested Mayor Donald Holtcamp and Chief Dan Lucas meet with Brown to discuss the issue of the citation. Klussman noted that as the chief executive of the city, Holtcamp has the authority to issue Brown a pardon if he deems it appropriate.

Holtcamp and Brown both agreed to meet at a later date, and Brown indicated he would take the aldermen's advice and pursue the matter in court. County court records indicate Brown filed a civil suit the following day and a hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2011.

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