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Saturday, December 02, 2023

Erlanger, King differ on tenants' rights

Tenants' rights issues have come to the forefront of the District 8 city council campaign, with both candidates courting the student vote with their plans for housing reform. 




Jeff Erlanger said his main goal is to prevent landlords from unfairly retaining rent deposits, such as when they deduct for cleaning inspections and then do not actually clean anything. He also said it is important to make sure tenants know their rights and landlords know their responsibilities.  




However, Erlanger added that he does not have other specific ideas for housing reforms at this point, because he wants to avoid gratuitous legislation. 




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\It's hard to give specifics in terms of what other abuses we need to do [something about], because we have to be careful that each time someone has a story to tell, that we don't jump to conclusions and say 'oh a law needs to be passed,'"" Erlanger said. 




He said he would tackle deposits first and move on from there. 




Austin King, on the other hand, said he had considered five specific initiatives. He advocates creating a system where rent deposits would be handed over to the city treasurer rather than the landlord, so the landlord would have to file for any deductions. He also advocates the creation of a landlord licensing system, so landlords would be held to certain standards or else lose their licenses. 




King said he wants to strengthen legal protection for low-income tenants who use federal Section 8 vouchers, so landlords could not use the vouchers as an excuse to deny people tenancy. Finally, King said he will work to protect the 5 percent interest rate on security deposits and to ban ""earnest"" payments, with which he said landlords sometimes suddenly charge tenants after their property is re-evaluated. 




""I've got solutions to [these problems] and whether the landlord community likes them, I don't think that is my primary concern,"" King said. ""I don't know of any landlords that live in my district, but I know of a hell of a lot of tenants that do.""  




As they enter the final days of the race, both King and Erlanger said they realize King won 57 percent of the primary vote to Erlanger's 20 percent. However, neither King or Erlanger is counting on a repeat of those numbers.

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