Advocates call for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’ at Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting

Advocates call for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’ at Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 11:00 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -A lengthy and often heated public comment period occurred at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting Tuesday night.

Members of the Kentucky Tenants Group continue their push for a ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights.’ They say this would protect tenants from discrimination and have representation.

A handful of landlords also addressed Council Tuesday, mostly speaking against the measure. One telling Council it would prevent them as landlords from screening the people they are considering renting to.

Meanwhile, tenants say it is time that they have protections to safely and comfortably live in Lexington.

The Fayette County Courthouse plaza has become a common meeting place for the Kentucky Tenants Group. They met there and rallied before marching down the block to City Hall to address city leaders about their concerns with renting in Lexington.

Emma Anderson was one of several Lexington renters who addressed Council Tuesday night as a ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’ the Tenant’s Group proposed still hangs in committee.

“In May, I was evicted,” Anderson said. “I could not find an affordable place to move. I didn’t have the time I need to search while working full time, I ended up couch surfing for six months, and it completely destabilized my life.”

The group is focused on four things: banning discrimination based on income, a right to counsel during eviction court, seats for tenants on board and commissions and a registry or screening process of landlords.

Several property owners spoke out against these recommendations.

“I care about my tenants. I care about their rights. I want them to have a nice place to live, and I want them to be safe. If I can’t screen tenants, what do I say to the young family that lives on the other side of that duplex that has two small children,” said property owner Miranda Hinchman.

Tenant after tenant spoke out about what they say is a lack of accountability and unfairness when it comes to renting.

“Now my mom is paying double what she used to pay in rent, and the place we moved into needs a lot of repairs. Every single part of the ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’ would help us. A ban on source of income discrimination would have made our housing search so much better,” said Asan Gatewood.

Landlords say they might not be as willing to rent without their ability to screen.

“If you make it high risk, I’m not going to take on that risk,” Hinchman said. “I’m not going to be stuck with a tenant that makes me feel unsafe. Or makes my tenants out of respect feel unsafe. I think it’s important I be able to judge the risks involved.”