“Fake landlords” rent land bank houses to unsuspecting tenants

Many Kansas City Land Bank properties have houses on them, and inconveniently for everyone, people live in some.

There are even reports of fake “landlords” renting them out, said David Park, Land Bank director and deputy director of Neighborhood and Community Services.

He reported that last week to the mayor and city manager at a public city meeting.

The new land bank – with an inventory of about 3,600 properties – is believed to have more for sale than any other land bank in the nation.

About 750 to 800 of those – roughly one-in-five – have structures on them, Park said, often houses, and people living in some seem to be a mix: Squatters or those who never moved out when the homes were sold on the courthouse steps, or people renting from those who call themselves landlords.

“We expect to run the gamut from criminal activity to hard luck cases,” Park said in an interview.

He said officials will deal with the situation in a variety of ways.

No one will be given permission to live in the homes but evictions take time, he said. People with hardships will be given a chance to buy the homes or have relatives buy them for them.

In case of fraudulent landlords or other fraud, Park said, “It will be up to the person who got cheated to press the charges and we would certainly cooperate in any investigation.”

But he will also have city lawyers see if the city can pursue charges, he said.

The city will not formally allow anyone to stay and will not become a landlord itself, he said.

Liability issues on structures that may not even be up to code prevent that, he said, and city codes officials may order some of the houses vacated for code failings.

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