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Square at Forty-Eight Apartments

A Zillow report said the median rent in Lincoln rose almost 4 percent over the past year.

I walk my Near South neighborhood. I know when I’m looking at a rental property. There is an urgent need for a Lincoln ordinance to manage proactive inspections of rental properties. Renters have a right to a safe, usable living space.

I’ve seen rentals with iced-over sidewalks, missing siding, broken windows, holes in the roof, rotting porches and unsafe stairways. When it looks this bad on the outside, I get very concerned about the inside. With deterioration come more problems: mice, broken plumbing, unsafe furnaces, frayed wires.

The list is long. Landlords are accountable for the condition their property. It’s about keeping the public safe.

To those opposed to rental inspections, I say look at restaurants. They have yearly, surprise visits from our friendly City of Lincoln Health Department. Why? To keep the public safe. Renters are part of the public, and they have a right to a safe, usable living space without the fear of punishment, eviction or bullying for standing up for their rights.

Those who rent, by choice or necessity, are often our most vulnerable neighbors. They are the disabled, the elderly, single wage earner families and students. According to Marketwatch.com, from 2013 to 2016 the median net worth of homeowners was $231,400, up 15%. Renters, on the other hand, saw their median net worth fall 5% to $5,200.

Renters need advocates, powerful advocates, to help. They need us, their neighbors. And they need a City Council committed to passing a proactive rental inspection ordinance.

Catherine M. Lohmeier, Lincoln

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