Monday, September 17, 2007

From under the radar to front page above the fold

Updated at 6:45am Tuesday:

Rent-to-own ordinance faces revision -QCTimes

So Lynn wants to "fix" the ordinance himself, now that he was caught in the act. Unfortunately, his "fix" doesn't fix any of the real problems with this ordinance. It only requires that these contracts be recorded, so now there will be proof that they can't be inspected as rentals. I don't see how this really makes the situation better at all, but I'm sure some landlords will be on here to attempt to explain it any minute. If they had honest intentions here, they'd just add contract sales to the inspections without subtracting rent-to-owns. Unfortunately, not many of us think there are honest intentions involved here.

Original post:

Rent-to-own homes avoid inspections under ordinance -QCTimes

Thanks to Tory Brecht for bring this out into the open for the non-blogging public to read about. The letter to the FD with a list of properties that no longer need inspecting is VERY telling. This seems to have a high rate of disapproval from the people who know about these things, police and firefighting rental inspectors. From what I'm hearing it was slipped past into the consent agenda without all Aldermen knowing the implications. Shame on some of them for not reading closely, but shame on Alderman Lynn for bowing to landlords once again.

If the ordinance was really to "increase inspections" as claimed in the article, why not just add contract sales without eliminating rent-to-own inspections?

Also, I'm going to ban any accusations of being Dan or Wally on this thread. I don't know if I'll really delete violations, but I'll definitely consider it.

90 Comments:

At 9/17/2007 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Thanks Tory for writing what appears to be a very objective article. QCRPA is trying very hard to spin this as something positive that they wanted for the community, but in reality it is just another punch below the belt of homeowners and decent landlords.

 
At 9/17/2007 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a disgrace to all the folks that work so hard to make the central city safe and clean - to avail. Lynn need not be reelected and the rule of thumb is --- If the QCRPA opposes a candidate, vote for them.

 
At 9/17/2007 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really need to hold Alderman Lynn accountable. If he didn't intentionally pass this to help the landlords than he isn't bright enough to hold a position as alderman. Either way, it is time for him to move on. I pity the students at St. Ambrose who are being educated by him.

 
At 9/17/2007 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynn has once again shown his true colors as an alderman. First came the elimination of the inspection department, now comes the changing definition of a "true" rental property. Has anyone looked at the list of properties now off the inspection books? All First Financial, or those affiliated with Dan Lubell. Don't let B Boy Wonder and Sierra Lee names confuse you. These are all companies of the same person.

Lynn is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He claims that this will put more properties on the books, yet he voted to eliminate the rental inspectors positions. He has been in favor of longer inspection cycles, also something pushed for by Dan Lubell and the QCRPA.

It is time for the people from the Fifth Ward to "wake up" and see that this guy is bad for your neighborhoods. He is pro scumlord and his voting record shows it in spades.

 
At 9/17/2007 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no dog in this fight, but it seems to me that the list is the First Financial list, and they have an almost perfect inspection record. So, where exactly are all of these slum properties scooting under the radar? Maybe we need to consider that a 3% financial interest really is an ownership interest in property? I do know Walter Skovronski has a terrible inspection record. Look it up.

 
At 9/17/2007 3:03 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I only looked at a few, but it does indeed look like this list is from First Financial. Sierra Lee has the same address (1987 Spruce Hills, Bettendorf) as First Financial.

So we at least have a clear appearance of corruption here, and I'd like to see a better attempt at explaining it away from Lynn.

 
At 9/17/2007 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey no dog in the fight guy - you do have a dog in the fight. Try several all under different names.

 
At 9/17/2007 4:14 PM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

How did this get passed so easily? The other Aldermen share the blame for not questioning it more. Does anyone know how they all voted?

 
At 9/17/2007 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you guys eat an apple off the stupid tree this morning? Just because a property has the same address under a different entity does not make it corrupt. Kraft foods has several product lines, so what? It is my understanding that all of the properties submitted so far have an almost perfect inspection record, and no serious code violations. Where is the slum stuff? Please, somebody tell me...

 
At 9/17/2007 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walter Skovronski has numerous code violations, disgusting situations where he wonuld not fix windows for his tenants that were leaking badly, even solid waste violations...Gross. He is the slumlord, and he cannot avoid inspections. Nobody would ever give him 3% down for his crap, and even if they did, it would be mostly duplexes which would not be exempt anyway.

 
At 9/17/2007 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand the sequence, it came out of committee approved and was put on the consent agenda (I believe this the correct term) for council approval. It was buried in the list of all of the items approved by all of the other various committees.

Council typically honors the committees approval votes, unless there are objections. The number of items passed by committee to be approved at council can be extensive. This one slipped through based on review and approval of committee. Not sure of all of the votes, but Lynn, Barnhill, Van Fossen were yes, not sure of the others. So, the thank you for sneaking this through goes to Lynn.

 
At 9/17/2007 5:42 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

4:27, your Kraft analogy makes absolutely zero sense.

What we're saying, is that First Financial is run by people who very much support Lynn. Lynn sneaks through an ordinance that very much helps First Financial. Even if there wasn't any corruption, it certainly has look of it.

Once again, when Malin tries things that "look bad" like this, people throw a fit. I'm just glad people are starting to notice this Lynn-landlord issue outside of the blogs.

 
At 9/17/2007 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9/17/2007 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9/17/2007 6:55 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I warned you!

I was surprised it took that long for someone to start accusing people of being Dan or Wally.

Don't do it!

 
At 9/17/2007 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you QCI to get rid of the silliness that clouds the issue to stick to the point. And Pioneer you are EXACTLY right. Both Lynn and the other aldermen that didn't question the measure but just rubber stamped it deserve equal parts blame. I do find it interesting this was pushed through right before election. Was it a requirement for Lynn to have the landlord group's support or do they all sense he may lose this time so they wanted to get one last cherry on their sundae just in case?

Either way it does smell like corruption. We have the county attorney's office investigate city inspectors for almost no reason so why not have someone investigate what Lynn is getting for this last little service to Lubell? Another crummy rental property or two thrown his way? Free work on the crummy rental properties he already owns? Or just good old cash?? I doubt undying gratitude is all that's at work here. Not only are city employees not allowed to accept things from constituents - neither are elected officials. Let's hire private investigators to see what Lynn got.

 
At 9/17/2007 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the comments that 3% is a MAJOR investment to protect the public from slum properties. Not so. An example from recent experience in our neighborhood.

Property sold rent-to-own for $40,000. Run-down place not probably worth even half that. Unrecorded contract so no one can prove it's a sale. "Buyer" paid $1500 that they still call a damage deposit. They pay "rent" (through section 8 no less) that they say their seller promised will go toward purchase.

Tenant can't buy those fancy caddy rims with government aid so they have a cash-only job on the side selling crack. Nice busy little job at that. They trash the house and the surrounding area, but hey the house wasn't much when they moved in. See the toilet never did work so they use the bathtub. (do you think I'm kidding?? no sirreee).

Neighbors get wise because loose-lipped drugged out tenant has spilled too much info and call for a section 8 complaint inspection. House is condemned. Drug dealers move onto the next rent-to-own and start over. A few months later, the owner comes in, slaps on some new paint, takes out a couple dumpsters worth of junk and puts up another rent-to-own sign. New people are moving in as we speak. They sure look like they'll be good neighbors. I can tell since all their furniture is coming from the rental center and they have really good really loud stereos in their tricked out cars. Yep, rent-to-own makes for good neighborhoods. That's why people like Lubell live in fancy areas in Bettendorf far away from their rent-to-own beauties.


They do a nice little cash business for three months and

 
At 9/18/2007 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering if political signs can be placed on what appears to be city property. A person running for mayor has place a sign on the north side of River Drive just east of the railroad bridge that crosses River Drive. It appears that the property could be city, Indian Spring Park, commerical or owned by the railroad. I don't believe it is private property. If this is not private property would it be in violation of campaign rules?

 
At 9/18/2007 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Report the sign.

 
At 9/18/2007 4:52 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

They don't have honest intentions, that is obvious.

Nice that you finally see corruption in our city government QCI. Too bad you didn't see it when D-One pushed for EServe to get tax incentives while D-One execs were raking in the money selling their own property to the company. I guess only certain people are susceptible to corruption charges.

 
At 9/18/2007 6:00 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

I at least believe that D1 and even the Russell guy have Davenport's best interests in mind. There's really no way to argue that this ordinance helps people in Davenport, except for slumlords.

 
At 9/18/2007 8:04 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

Riiiiiight. I might buy that if he were selling the property at cost or something, but I doubt he cares about Davenport that much.

Hey, maybe Lynn is doing this because he loves Davenport. He's putting the jobs at First Financial ahead of the desire of citizens, kind of like putting a major company making lots of money ahead of regular old taxpayers. Who needs taxes anyway. We need to deal with blight on 53rd!

 
At 9/18/2007 9:04 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

So you'd prefer we just sit out of the incentive game and get few new businesses?

Its also not like Davenport is giving them existing tax money, they're just not having to pay much taxes on new value that they're adding.

 
At 9/18/2007 10:35 PM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

Corruption would be Russell Construction providing a kickback in return for a construction contract. I'm not aware anything like that has ever happened. In fact, on projects like John O'Donnell, didn't they win the business by being the lowest bidder? At worst, they won it because there was a preference in the contract for hiring a local contractor.

Who should Russell have sold the land to instead? I highly doubt selling it to someone else would have resulted in the creation of so many high paying jobs.

 
At 9/18/2007 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

eServ had very specific site and building requirements along with the incentives package. eServ would have stayed in Rock Island if their site requirements could have been met and if the State Of Illinois would have provided the kind of help that the State of Iowa did.

When it was apparent that Rock Island was not in the running, Mayor Winborn called Rock Island City Officials to let them know that Davenport would like to present a package. As is the custom, if one Quad City can't present a wining package to a company, the other Quad Cities are encouraged to pursue the business.

The incentive package put together by Davenport was ultimately successful. eServ was responsible to work out a real estate deal that included the requirements for the TIF. There were a number of Developers and contractors who could have made proposals to eServ, and may have. Russell presented a site and building package that eServ decided was the best proposal for their needs.

That is called business, not corruption. I believe the eServ deal show-cases the Quad Cities commitment and cooperation to bring good jobs to our area. There were no back-room, shady or illegal deals for you conspiracy fans to titillate over.

 
At 9/19/2007 7:35 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Lisa Lewis here - 4th ward candidate, chiming in.

FYI: This was originally passed unanimously on the Consent Agenda. Not a single alderman asked to have it separated out for discussion or debate. Thanks to Tory B. and others for pointing out what should have been - if not an obvious red flag and cause for a NO vote - at least cause for pause and serious, serious revision.

Here's some more food for thought:

Whether a rental or lease option is "recorded" makes no difference at all. I could take an IOU written on a piece of tissue paper downtown and have it "recorded". It means nothing.

These sort of deals should NOT make a property exempt from inspection because unless there is a legitimate Contract for Deed, it is nothing more than a glorified - and usually more costly - rental agreement. The down payments are often little more than non-refundable security deposits if there is no Contract for Deed. The renter (we can't really call them a buyer) is not considered a homeowner in any way without a formal Contract for Deed. For example, they can't refinance after 12 months as most of us can. Etc.

Furthermore, a glance at some of these option contracts shows that many of them are no better (and in some cases, worse) than some of the sub-prime loans we've seen in recent years. Another example: because there is officially no interest charged, the renter (again, we can't call them a buyer) can't deduct anything on their taxes at year end. What is worse is that most of these agreements are offered to renters with no objective appraisal of the property. The owner (acting as the lender) determines the (often inflated) value -- and the hopeful "buyer" signs the contract. (Worse still is when an owner finds a compliant appraiser to tell them what they want to hear.)

There is usually only one reason for a house to be "sold" for a price so far above assessed value in a rent-option situation, and that is to take advantage of an inexperienced and hopeful prospective tenant.

Unfortunately, too many people lack experience in the home buying market and don't know to insist on an outside, objective appraisal.

These deals also tend to include language that refers to an interest rate (but does not offer the tax deduction) and also include monthly fees ($60 - $80), etc. In a nutshell, the renter often ends up paying an inflated price for a piece of property that they have no stake in - because they have no Contract for Deed. And if they ever figure this out, they have no more incentive than an ordinary leasee to improve or maintain the property, either.

If property owners want to enter into true Contracts for Deed, that's a different story -- then we can and should talk about taking the properties off the inspection rolls.

Meanwhile, this is bad news, top to bottom - and it's got to go. The amendment is useless.

It's bad policy - period. Bad for the city as a whole, and bad for prospective "buyers", too. Shame on everyone in this situation, I think.

 
At 9/19/2007 7:50 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

PS: The link goes to an old blog that I never developed - and with my new Google account I can't seem to get in to edit or update it, and can't seem to create a new blog, either. Sorry if there is not much there when you click on it.

Also - I love the blogs and online chat, but I am not able to check in every day. Please forgive me if I'm not immediately responsive. Feel free to email me at risaroo@NOSPAMearthlink.net if you want a quicker reply.

 
At 9/19/2007 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, thank you for your input, however you may not know that most of the rent to own contracts and contracts for deed that this ordinance effects are far more like conventional purchases then you realize.

First of all, you are correct that on a lease and option a purchaser cannot deduct their interest, however the standard deduction for interest for people who are married filing jointly is now around $10,700.00 which exceeds the interest rate write off anyway in most cases, so that is not an important point. In other words, congress has changed things so that unless you are buying a very expensive home, you no longer get a tax deduction in most cases anyway. Plus, the idea of these arrangements is to give somebody a hand up to homeownership, and it does work.

On a lease option, a homeowner is considered an owner and CAN refinance or sell their home at any time. It has happened over 100 times at First Financial and you can call me personally if you would like to find out more. I am at 563 359-4999 and I am Dan Lubell.

We price our properties in accordance with market value. The fact that we do not have a problem with our properties not appraising out has shown this to be ccurate.

Our rent to own properties do in fact reflect an interest rate, and our average interest rate is around prine, plus or minus a point. This is FAR better then the subprime loans you were referring to. A reg Z styloe disclosure is given out on every deal. Remember, we are dealing with people with damaged credit, and this is in reality a very good deal for them.

This is actually an intelligent ordinance. Prior to the passage of this ordinance, any slum property owner could stick a property under a contract for deed, record it and have no investment from the buyer whatsoever, so a slum property could continue to exist. This ordinance corrects that with a nod to actual stakeholders who put a significant investment down for their future. This is not a theoretical thing, time has shown it works. Again, I have more then 100 payoffs to prove it. These are people that may not have fit into the system due to credit problems, but now have been given a hand up to conventional home ownership.

Finally, these are all good houses. That is why to date they have passed inspection with almost a perfect record, and each property has been inspected for up to 313 different code violations. So, we have gone through more inspections then we even have inventory left, and the City has never found anything of substance, even once. It is not about whether or not the properties could pass. It is about two things....1. Wasting taxpayer money and time on inspecting things that do not need to be inspected. If we don't do that, we will have more time to focus on the real slum properties and bring them into compliance. 2. The cost of these continued inspections is assessed against the homeowners in a lease option or contract for deed, and it takes quite a bit of their time. Often, they must leave work to come home for an inspection. They should be treated like any other home owner. They have put up an investment, so give them the same right to privacy that the rest of us enjoy. Although a few properties may leave the inspection cycle, many more with no investment from the stakeholders will now be brought on board for inspection. Should ANY property (be it lease option, contract sale or conventional sale) be a problem or subject of a legitimate complaint, it is subject to a complaint inspection anyway. All of these properties remain subject to the nuisance ordinance as well.

Thanks for your consideration in this matter.

Dan Lubell
First Financial Group L.C.

 
At 9/19/2007 10:19 AM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

I have no problem with Russell selling EServe the land. I have problems giving TIF's which were designed to help blighted areas be given to our most well taken care of area of town. And I have a bigger problem with Russell sitting on an organization which gets its money from Davenport taxpayers and selling properties for a profit while soliciting incentives from taxpayers. If he wants to sell land and solicit tax incentives for his purchasers he should step away from D1.

But I suppose you'll never admit that since they are on "your side" of things and corruption could never happen. This kind of crap will continue until the supporters of these people/organizations start calling out the behavior instead of blindly supporting it because of the supposed greater good.

You want to know why people get so upset at their government? It's because they don't trust them and the EServe deal and contract sales are two very good examples of why they shouldn't.

 
At 9/19/2007 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A while ago a secretary of mine at the time was looking at renting to own a property in Moline from First Financial. She difference between the tax assessed value and the asking price was like $60,000. Kinda odd. The interest rate was nuts. Dan - you rip people off.

 
At 9/19/2007 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snarky, so the better good doesn't matter?

It is the economic health of the community that allows for funding of infrastructure city wide. Without economic growth who is going to pay the bills? Without competitive incentives, the jobs go some place else; that's the reality. Even with the property tax relief, new business still contributes to the city tax base and make other tangible and intangible economic contributions.

Whether you philosophically agree or not a city must attract new jobs and retain existing jobs to stay healthy, regardless of where in the city the jobs are located.

TIFs have expanded in scope since their founding back in the 80s. They are an economic recruitment tool used by cities to compete for growth.No corruption, no deceit in the eServ deal.

However,I do agree that Alderman Lynn's ordinance certainly deserves close scrutiny and revision, at the least.

 
At 9/19/2007 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:19 am, you are lying and this is a perfect example of that. I will prove it. Name the address wher I sold a home for $60,000 above the assessed value in Moline at a crazy interest rate, and lets check it out. I will report back to this blog the selling price and the interest rate. Go ahead. I dare you! For what it is worth, to the other readers of this blog...I guarantee the annonymous person will NOT do that. They are making it up.

Dan Lubell
First Financial Group, L.C.

 
At 9/19/2007 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's ba-ack!

 
At 9/19/2007 1:09 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

How can you think it's not corrupt for someone supposedly representing the city's interests to be selling his own property at profit while telling the community to bend over and give things away to the same company because it is necessary to lure them in.

How much would the property have sold for if D1 hadn't been successful in all their incentives.

But of course you don't see it, you don't want to.

 
At 9/19/2007 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dan = tell us all how it feels to be lied about. Can you empathize yet?

 
At 9/19/2007 2:14 PM, Anonymous Illinois Businessman said...

For all of you D1 distracters, D1 is financed by it's members. The city of Davenport is a member, Scott County is a member as are many Quad City businesses, both Iowa and Illinois. The governmental membership contributions are somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% and 80% come from private businesses. This is my best estimate. I am sure the exact numbers can be re-searched

Many of DavenportOne's initiatives are in response to requests from the Davenport City Council to the D1 board. Their initiatives benefit Davenport directly and the Quad Cities indirectly. My guess is that the City of Davenport receives more than it's fair share of benefit from the money they spend. For those of you who are of the opinion that Davenport tax payers carry the burden of expenses for D1; you don't. Private business does.

If I took to hart all of the distracters comments, I would quit my membership.

I continue to strongly support D1.

Illinois Businessman.

 
At 9/19/2007 2:51 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Dan -

Thanks for your considered reply. I guess the question I have for you is if you really want to give a hand-up to help folks become actual homeowners, why not just rent folks a house and be there to let the inspectors in if the tenant is unavailable, OR why not just sell these homes on a Contract for Deed and give the prospective buyer equitable title, the tax deduction (where it applies) and the chance to possibly refinance down the line?

In a rental or lease option, the seller holds all the cards (including the ability to depreciate and defer any tax gains by completing the 1031 exchange) - and they "buyer" gets not much more than a chance to find housing with less than perfect credit (if that is a factor).

It is much easier for a seller (in this case, still a landlord) to evict and re-market the property much more quickly in case someone falls behind on payments than with a CFD, and I don't begrudge any business owner from trying to protect their interests and make a decent profit for their efforts. You are perfectly within your rights to say that you're doing a lot of rent-to-owns because it's more profitable for you - that's not a crime. But maybe it isn't even you we need to worry about.

And that's my main point - and I'll bow out of the debate with the following observations:

Assuming for the sake of argument that you and First Financial (as well as some others) have only good intentions and would never abuse the new policy . . . what would stop another, unscrupulous business or landlord from violating the spirit and intent of the policy in the future? Or even next week?

Even if you personally don't charge high rates of interest, over-inflate your property values or sell hunk-o-junk houses, what's to prevent somebody else from doing just that?

This is the problem with policy that isn't carefully and thoughtfully crafted and vetted. It leaves a variety of large and small loopholes for ne'er-do-wells to crawl through. And in the end, it's the city and taxpayers left holding the bag, while the greedy ride off into the sunset with bags of cash.

These programs can be quite a boon for the large investor, but the transactions are still rentals, regardless of what they are called or how they are recorded. On the face of it, that may not be a crime, but it's not in the best interests of the city to take any kind of rental property off the inspection list, either.

Finally, as to your point about easing the burden on inspectors, I can only say that we need to restore the NEO as soon as possible anyway. In a very short period of time it has become clear how foolish it was to reduce the number of professional inspectors at a time when the rental of single family homes is on the rise. The work this office did to clean up junk and debris is also sorely missed.

Anyhow, thanks again for your considered reply, Dan. We'll agree to disagree on this one, and as I am not (yet) an elected person with any real vote on the matter, I guess I have little choice but to hope that everyone employs the program as honestly as you say that you will.

Best,

Lisa Lewis

 
At 9/19/2007 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snarky, what I see are two philosophy opposing views. I believe your narrow view for economic recruitment incentives lead to stagnation of growth. Without economic growth the tax burden on existing property taxes will increase.

Those are my thoughts, you can have the last word.

 
At 9/19/2007 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa,

Thanks for the reasonable tone of your reply, and I can see that you have some understanding of the issue, but there are a few problems which have, in my view, caused you to come to an incorrect conclusion. Perhaps this will remain an area that we disagree on, but I will try to focus on what I believe needs to be done and see if I can win you over with logic.
For years I have been doing exactly what you have suggested, which is letting the inspectors in homeowners properties and having them come up with nothing of substance. The homeowners typically do not want strange people traipsing through their homes, so they have chosen to take time off of work, not to mention the expense of the program. Since they are in fact owners with all of the characteristics of equitable title, they also must bear the financial burden of the inspections, since that is only fair since they also get 100% of the equity appreciation over time. I have had more then 100 people succeed in paying off their homes by the way. Prior to the passage of this ordinance, Lisa, a slum landlord could sell a property on contract, and get far less then 3% down. Initial research into the subject shows that more then half of all contract sales fell into this category, which is why the new ordinance is so good. Since, as I have previously pointed out, a typical purchaser would not gain anything from a tax write off anyway due to the high threshold for the standard deduction, the fact that a seller can take advantage of section 1031 with a lease option sale in place is a good thing. This encourages sellers to get more buyers to become conventional homeowners. By the way slum properties would not make it through that threshold anyway, since they would not appraise out. But, section 1031 of the tax code does encourage investors to make more opportunities available to potential buyers, by directing them to re-invest in the community and give more of these potential home buyers a hand up to home ownership.
The scenario you are worrying about, which is that a slum property owner will somehow get 3% down for a piece of crap and churn the property and do it again and again is not valid. The rental market is flooded, and a person can get a decent rental for just the first month’s rent. Why would they put 3% down to live in substandard conditions? It will not happen. If for some reason it ever did, the substandard property could still be inspected anyway.

What prevents others from doing bad things? The free market. There is too much competition right now for a slum property owner to be able to give an unfair deal and survive. It won’t happen. In fact it is just a theoretical argument. The only place it ever has happened with consistency is with low down or no down investments.
You claim we need to restore the NEO as soon as possible. My experience with that department was one of tremendous inefficiency. We at the QCRPA documented case after case where they refused to investigate slum properties, and the fire department and public works seems to be doing a much better job with less employees. According to Alderman Frink’s blog, the new department is very much out producing the old NEO department when it comes to efficiency. It appears that four inspectors are now out producing the results of 14 inspectors under the old NEO. Here is the information according to Alderman Frink:
HOUSING INSPECTION STATISTICS
In the most recent fiscal year (ending 6-30-07) - Four inspectors completed 2472 total housing inspections in 4700 units. The rental inspections added up to 779 inspections in 2216 units. The weed inspections were 2578. (Dan’s note: By the way, this figure only started in October of 2006, so the results are actually much more impressive then they appear at first glance!)

In the prior fiscal year (7-1-05 through 6-30-06) - 14 inspectors completed 4754 total housing inspections in 9823 units. The rental inspections added up to 1738 inspections in 5136 units. The weed inspections were 2125.

Anyway Lisa, I hope this will give you some food for thought. I will compliment you on the reasonable tone you have taken towards discussion of this issue. Others resort to personal attacks, and I have always appreciated a spirited debate on the merits of an issue.

Thanks for your consideration,

Dan Lubell
First Financial Group, L.C.

 
At 9/19/2007 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same old B/S
YAWN!

 
At 9/19/2007 5:13 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

You keep trying to dodge the issue. The issue is this, DOne executive uses position to make a profit on his land while taxpayers *must* give incentives.

Narrow view of economic development? Wrong. I've said in plenty of posts before that tax incentives are very necessary to development. However, that does not excuse our chamber of commerce execs getting rich off of the backs of taxpayers. I also think tax incentives should only be used when the development is on par with our goals as a community. Our goal is not to encourage sprawl but to start taking care of our city by encouraging development in areas it is needed.

Jobs are important, but not nearly as important as some people make it out to be. Iowa unemployment rate is under 5%. It is projected in the next year we will begin seeing worker shortages, especially in industries like the health care field, due to baby boomer retirements. While manufacturing type positions are leaving, other businesses are growing. The move of businesses from expensive centers on the coasts toward the midwest has been a trend that will likely continue as long as there continues to be a strong difference in wages and land prices. Workers in some industries make half as much here as they would in a coastal state.

The Quad-Cities has unique advantages in that we have so many amenities typical of larger areas but the housing prices, land and wages are still so low creating opportunity. Where we are weak is in the availability of workers for companies who would desire to move here. A 5% unemployment rate doesn't work in our favor in this case, and neither does the rate of those with a college education. The Promise could be a valuable economic incentive by creating a population businesses desire. But it would take some time to gain the effects. In the meantime, with some good marketing techniques and concentration on our weaknesses, including crime and appearance besides things I've alread mentioned, we could see some exponential growth without lining the pockets of those who are supposed to be pushing for growth of our city, not their bank account.

Or we could continue to just throw away potential taxes. *shrug* Whatever works, I guess.

 
At 9/19/2007 5:15 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

Lisa,
I enjoyed your responses to this issue.

Dan,
Never give power away you would be afraid to see wielded by your enemy. Enough said. It's a bad ordinance, whether you are a good businessman or not.

 
At 9/19/2007 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snarky,

I respect your opinion, but I think it is a very good ordinance. By my count, there will be many sales with little or no investment from the primary stakeholders that will come under inspection. I do not see it as a realistic alternative that it can ever be misused, since basic economics will prevail, and the wrong people will not put up 3% to purchase bad property and avoid inspection.

 
At 9/19/2007 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line - Dan wants the inspectors out of his properties so he doesn't have to spend his precious money paying someone (Van Willows) to come in and make repairs in order to pass the inspections. He also saves the cost of registering his properties which reaches into the thousands of dollars a year.

Look up dear Dan's foreclosure records on the Iowa Courts website and get a real feel for the dis- proportionate number of foreclosures and the "over 100 homes sold in three years" he keeps repeating over and over.

Dan also doesn't want his "tenants" reminded that they are indeed renters and not on a Contract for Deed, and therefore not responsible for repairs to the dwelling. Dan hates that there is no city enforced "tenant responsibility" ordinance.

The inspectors have on file cases in which some of his properties were placed on the four-year-cycle, fell into obvious dis-repair (soffits hanging, siding loose, downspouts missing) during that cycle, but were not repaired until it came time for the rental inspection in year four.

Davenport does not need an out of town landlord and business owner to tell us how we should be handling their comodity (profit). We obviously need people like Lisa Lewis who will look out for the profiteers trying to make a buck on the backs of the neighborhoods.

Good-luck Lisa. I would vote for you if I could. Make no mistake, I will not vote for those that take "contributions" from Dan Lubell, the QCRPA, or Tax Payers United.

 
At 9/19/2007 8:51 PM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

My point was that the D1 executive would have made a profit on that land at some point anyway, and most likely in a way that would not have landed Davenport 260 high-paying jobs.

Is it a sweetheart deal with eServ? Sure. Is that corruption? I don't think so. If Russell were an elected offical (or gave a kickback to an elected official), there would be no doubt. But that's not the story.

LeClaire is using TIFs to lure residential McMansion development. At least Davenport uses TIFs mainly to attract jobs.

 
At 9/19/2007 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, I can and will vote for you. How can I get a yard sign to put next to my "Bill Gluba For Mayor" sign?

 
At 9/19/2007 9:34 PM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

Pioneer,
Ick - that's another reason why I'll never live in LeClaire. I hate McMansions with a passion. I've known too many people living in them 5 years after being built, they don't hold value well.

What about Jamie Howard working for Russell? Does that qualify? And I'm done hijacking this thread - sorry QCI, didn't mean to take in such a tangent. This rent to own ordinance is important and shouldn't be ignored.

 
At 9/19/2007 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to disappoint, but Van Willows no longer works for me and I do not depend on him to make repairs. It would not be me that saves the cost of registering properties, but as I have explained several times, it would be the buyers of the properties.

You do not understand real estate, I do not have foreclosure records on courts online. I do have some FED records where I have had to take court action against people that did not pay, but notice that it is often against the same people time and time again. I sometimes have to do this with people that have a history of bad credit, but also notice that the fact that they re-appear shows they are staying with me. I am teaching people that would otherwise not pay good paying habits, and I consistently make payment arrangements with them. Just ask the magistrates, like Dave Binnegar, for example. Yes, over 100 homes have paid off in three years. If you want proof, contact me in person. I will provide it.

Yes, my buyers are indeed responsible for repairs, however I include a provision to finance those repairs if they cost more then $500.00. My interest rate is about equal to prime, plus or minus one percent.

By the way, there is in fact a tenant responsibility ordinance. It is not being enforced, but it is in effect. It has nothing to do with the subject at hand, but I thought I would point that out since the previous poster pointed it out.

If the inspectors have property of ours that have fallen into disrepair, then they should notify me. It will be corrected. Why they would withhold such information I have no idea. Again, please provide specifics. In fact with regard to the overall condition of First Financial homes, Loxi Hopkins, who has never agreed with me on anything, even admitted she has never had a problem with a First Financial home.

The poster seems to enjoy claiming that I am an out of town investor. Well, guess what, I live within 5 miles of most of the properties in question. I hardly think that makes me the guy that doesn’t care or lives in Florida. And finally, with regard to Lisa, I like the spirit and tone of her discussion, even though I disagree with her.

 
At 9/19/2007 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to post that the last item was from me, Dan Lubell

 
At 9/19/2007 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Dan Lubell and I approved this message

 
At 9/20/2007 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meyer says that... his constituents are evenly split on the rent to own & inspection ordinance issues. And, those opposed are "full of crap". I guess half of the 3rd ward knows how their alderman feels about them

 
At 9/20/2007 8:20 AM, Anonymous Outside Looking In said...

Pioneer, I agree with your view on D1 volunteer members and volunteer executives. The key is volunteer. They don't quit their jobs to serve. Their primary responsibility is to their business and to their employers.

I would be surprised to learn that there were no other developers or builders chasing the eServ deal. Incentives brought eServ to Davenport. The real estate deal went to the proposal best suiting eServ's needs. Did incentives help? Sure, that's what they are supposed to do.

 
At 9/20/2007 9:44 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Dear Anon (yard sign seeker):

Send me an email with your name and address and I'll get you a yard sign ASAP. Just delete the "NOSPAM" in the addy below - I do that when I post so I can share my address and prevent web trolling spambots from flooding my inbox with junk.

risaroo@NOSPAMearthlink.net

Thanks much for your support!

Lisa Lewis

 
At 9/20/2007 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lubell, I am sorry you believe I have never agreed with you on anything. I can't remember having sitting down with you to discuss any issue.
I am for any landlord that helps the central city improve it's housing stock and doesn't engage in predatory lending practices. I would think that any landlord that truly has the interest of his tenants and the central city in mind would agree with the stands of Quad Cities Interfaith.
At Quad Cities Interfaith we deal with issues not personalities. I look forward to working with all the stake holders to come up with a plan that is the best interest of everyone.
As we stated at the council meeting last night we believe the inspection process has been "tweeked" so many times that it isn't working for anyone. I'm sure that you don't want your properities surrounded by slumlord properties anymore than the people that live there do. I feel sure that you don't want criminals living in those houses anymore than we do. We probably have more in common than you would believe.
Loxi Hopkins
Quad Cities Interfaith

 
At 9/20/2007 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loxi,

Thank you for the spirit and tone of your letter, and I appreciate the sentiment. Your right, we want the same things in the end. The only thing we might be in disagreement over is how to get there. My issue is with the underlying issue that every property should be inspected or else it is proof that people are hiding things. If that were true, then every property should be inspected...yours mine and every one of our neighbors. If that standard comes to pass, I would accept it, but I don't think it is very likely.

As has been said many times, my company's track record for inspections is quite good, but each time there is an inspection the homeowner must bare the cost of taking time off from work, and the registration, and the inspection fee. Time has proven that stakeholders with a financial interest in their properties tend to take better care of them overall, so I am in favor of the 3% down requirement. Over 100 of our homes have become conventional homeowners, so I feel our rent to own agreements should be included right along with contract sales. I also think the fire department is doing an excellent job holding people accountable without the favoritism that seemed to be part of the old NEO system. According to the published statistics, they are doing a lot more with much less manpower. Specifically, here is why I think it is working. Four housing inspectors and two environmental inspectors outperformed the work of 14 housing inspectors from the old NEO. In addition, the old NEO had numerous complaints on file of properties they flat out refused to clean up. In any event, here are the statistics...

HOUSING INSPECTION STATISTICS

In the most recent fiscal year (ending 6-30-07) - Four inspectors completed 2472 total housing inspections in 4700 units. The rental inspections added up to 779 inspections in 2216 units. The weed inspections were 2578.

(Dan’s note: By the way, this figure only started in October of 2006, so the results are actually much more impressive then they appear at first glance. These numbers should almost be doubled! So, in reality, it appears that much fewer inspectors are doing much more work. I can tell it is working too, because a lot of people are complaining about standards that appear to be too tough.)

In the prior fiscal year (7-1-05 through 6-30-06) - 14 inspectors completed 4754 total housing inspections in 9823 units. The rental inspections added up to 1738 inspections in 5136 units. The weed inspections were 2125.

Loxi, I will extend the olive branch and offer to sit down with you over a cup of coffee. Perhaps we do have more in common then we realize, and perhaps we could reach a meeting of the minds.

Dan Lubell
First Financial Group, L.C.
(563) 570-7239

 
At 9/20/2007 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct me on this, but I think Lubell's got his numbers wrong. Didnt the council vote like 6 months ago to hire on 4-6 more housing inspectors?

 
At 9/20/2007 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm anxious to hear who the QCRPA will be supporting in the primary election. Dan, when will your group come out with endorsements.

 
At 9/20/2007 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe those numbers are correct, but they were taken before the new inspectors were added. The information comes from Alderman Frink. It makes you wonder why we really needed all of these new inspectors, but thats life I guess.

 
At 9/20/2007 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry, that was me, Dan Lubell

 
At 9/20/2007 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice figures Dan, but guess what, the numbers of inspections dropped off dramatically from March thru June '05 because of the shift of duties and manpower of rental inspection. Inspections were not done because no one knew who would or could go back to follow up if violations were found. And if you remember, a moritorium was put on all inspections for three months by Frese once the program moved over to the FD. So while your numbers may be accurate they are also bogus. This is typical of how you play half-truths on those you like to "debate" your agenda.

 
At 9/20/2007 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, more inspectors have been hired in city NEO. Between NEO staff in the fire dept. and public works staff handling debris and police handling all the abandoned vehicles we now have MORE people working on this that we did in the past.

 
At 9/20/2007 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try again...your four housing inspectors short. And now there are three departments instead of one doing the old NEO job. If you were counting bodies, your still one short.

 
At 9/20/2007 5:55 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Either way, it makes no sense.

Its like disbanding the Quality Assurance department of a manufacturer and splitting QA duties up among Sales, HR, and Maintenance.

 
At 9/20/2007 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I beg to differ. The numbers of inspections actually were beefed up towards the demise of the old NEO as former director Mike Loos drove a public campaign to highlight the NEO. It was about the only time in memory that the inspectors actually walked entire neighborhoods. I could be wrong, but it seems I recall the number of inspections actually being beefed up. But, I did account for the fact that there was a 3 month moratorium, noting that things did not really start up with the fire department untill October. Even if I am wrong and the old NEO quit doing its job during the last several months, the new numbers are still quite impressive. I realize that more staff has since been hired, and to some extent I question why, but overall they are doing a great job.

QCI, you may not believe this, but the old NEO continued to ignore legitimate complaints in many cases. They were hardly quality assurance and I do not see the same result under the fire department.

 
At 9/20/2007 8:37 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

It has nothing to do with that.

If the old NEO aren't doing their jobs, fire whoever isn't. There was no need to get rid of an entire department because some landlords felt that some of the employees weren't doing a good job.

There was NO NEED to demolish and start over.

 
At 9/20/2007 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, we can debate this till the cows come home, but I can tell you there were a lot more dissatisfied customers then just a few landlords.
Be that as it may, whats past is past. Looking forward though, it does seem to me that the fire department and the public works department are on top of things. If anything, I have heard criticism that they are too good at their jobs.

 
At 9/20/2007 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The OLD NEO was actually really kicking butt when they were disbanded. The solo areas were being cleaned up.

 
At 9/21/2007 6:29 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

The defense that "this is done with, lets move on" is fine, but its election time, and we need to remember who did these past things to us. And who is allied with them.

I'm working on a post to sum up my feelings on the landlord vs neighborhood battle.

 
At 9/21/2007 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who did what to whom?

Try Lynn, Hammerlink and Barnhill for sure. Ambrose, not completely sure how deep he is into dismantling city departments.

Meyer, he is in his own world. He is probably the only one who understands what it is he does; maybe.

 
At 9/21/2007 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree. I live on6th Street, and tried repeatedly to get a property cleaned up. The old NEO flat out refused to do it.

 
At 9/21/2007 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is that why the QCRPA went after Loos? Becasue he was bringing to light the work of the NEO which would bring to light the crappy scumlords that served on the board of the QCRPA?

This department was heading into a new era. I heard Loos put an end to violations not being recorded on record. This in fact put an end to Dan Lubell's perfect inspection records (Isn't that true Dan?). I heard he was getting tough on crap properties and that he was not bowing to the special interests of Council memebers and landlords. He even put in place a policy to target unsafe garages (especially on home owners) and was having great success with it.

When he performed the environmental sweeps he planned them when those who were in violation could utilize city services such as free yard waste weeks and bulky waste pick-up to their advantage. I know for a fact that he treated people fairly and even gave scum like LaHood a chance to prove themselves.

The QCRPA was upset with Loos about things he couldn't even control and went after him with lies. The lawsuit will bring the truth when it goes to trial.

 
At 9/21/2007 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I can't answer for Dan, but I for one hope and pray that the Loos lawsuit does go to trial. I have heard that the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation report will become public, and that may show Mike Loos was a world class liar. I heard that not only did he not get tough on violations, but he stonewalled on fixing up real problems in the City. This is the first I heard that he did favors for certain landlords by not recording their violations, but if that is even true, then trying to fix the problem right before you get the axe is hardly something to be proud of.
The difference is that the fire department has not had any allegations of unfair treatment, and that is why we don't need the old NEO back.

 
At 9/21/2007 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dumbass, Loos put an end to the practice of lieniancy for those landlords who fixed the violations right away in return for not having them documented. This was because the QCRPA said landlords were not receiving equal treatment. This was a practice he walked into not one he developed. So when it backfired on guys like Dan Lubell, they screamed that the inspectors were being "nit-picky". And sorry to say, you have the old NEO back. Your ignorance abounds.

And while you HOPE that the DCI report MAY show Loos as a liar, you will find that it will not. Loos was one of the best things to happen to the NEO and the administration never backed him, so he resigned. Davenport loses.

 
At 9/21/2007 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... now I am a dumbass because I don't buy your arguement? Again, although I am not Dan, I know that he never complained that Mr. Loos cracked down on him. And, this suppossed crackdown should be hidden somewhere in Dan's inspection record if what you are saying is true. I know Dan has said that he seldom if ever got more then four code violations in a property and none were ever serious. Care to comment Dan? If I recall correctly, one of the things that Loos is accused of was special treatement of Tony LaHood. I can't wait to see that DCI report!
And last, but not least, we do NOT have the old NEO back. There is a new Sheriff in town named Captain Frese, and he has cleaned up the mess.

 
At 9/21/2007 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re-read pinhead. I never said Loos cracked down on Lubell, and you can read blogs, newspaper articles and listen to council meetings were he states that the NEO "nit-picked" properties. Hell he still claims that the NEO wasted time "nit-picking" good properties with minor violations. His problem is that he wanted special treatment and the NEO wouldn't ablige.

And I call you dumbass because you are a dumbass. Sherrifs belong to the county not the FD. Dumbass. (LOL) I'm done wasting my breath (calluses) with you. You deal with hear-say rather than fact and are blinded by the truth for your hatred of Mr. Loos and the NEO.

Nah-Nah-Na-Nah-Nah.

 
At 9/21/2007 5:07 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Knock it off with the name calling already.

 
At 9/21/2007 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 4:17 pm, you just contradicted yourself big time! At 1:10 pm you claimed Loos cracked down on landlords and that it "backfired on guys like Dan Lubell". Then on your next post at 4:17 pm you claimed that you "never said Loos cracked down on Lubell". Well, which is it?

 
At 9/21/2007 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my years of owning rental, I have NEVER had a problem with the NEO of two years ago and even today. They are the same highly quality inspectors as before....yes, the same people. Nothing was accomplished here but a waste of tax dollars and a bunch of fools landlords trying to pull a fast one. I am here to say that I did not renew my membership, as well as many others, to the QCRPA due to their track record. The only reason I joined was for the discount on the advertising from the QCT. To those still belonging to this organization, I say, Jump before the ship goes under!

 
At 9/22/2007 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good riddance to you. I am one of the many proud members of the QCRPA (not Dan or Mike or Ron, by the way).
Wally, you know me, because I joined your group too, just so I could see what is going on. I have to say, your group is a joke compared to the QCRPA.
Did you know that the membership of the QCRPA is growing, while Wally's membership is shrinking?

You can say otherwise, but the problems with the old NEO are documented. The same cannot be said under the Fire Department.

 
At 9/22/2007 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you mind posting those documents please. I have no idea what you are babbling about.

 
At 9/24/2007 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just go look at the records. Oh thats right, the old NEO destroyed the records on the way out. What a wonderful group they were!

 
At 9/24/2007 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have no proof...do you? Are you Chicken Little? Is the sky falling? If you post therories and can't back them up with cold evidence, then you are no better than the lies you are spreading.

 
At 9/24/2007 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious???There were tons of places the old NEO ignored. Ask Lubell or Steen or Gruenhagen. Hell, ask the aldermen that voted to disband the old NEO. They all got the documented evidence.

 
At 9/25/2007 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel those alderman you mentioned have been doing what these dirty landlord are telling them. Yes the same folks you also have mentioned. I don't think that is right and I will not vote for Lynn ever again.

 
At 9/26/2007 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel these aldermen you mentioned are very thoughtful, and have the best interests of the citizens at heart. And, believe it or not, there is a correlation between good landlords and good neighbors. They are not oppossed to each other, rather they have similar goals.

 
At 9/29/2007 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone with half a brain would see through this "rent-to-own stuff. I am stand by my decision and will vote for someone else. And by the way, you can't vote, you live in Bettendork!

 
At 9/30/2007 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er...Sorry Charlie, only intelligent people can write a sentence that means something. No, I don't live in Bettendorf, and what does "I am stand by my decision" mean? By the looks of it, you can't vote either; you have to be able to read and write first!

 
At 9/30/2007 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you have to insult me for pointing out the truth? That pretty much proves my point. You can't vote in Davenport and you are with the QCRAPer! Give up, Lynn will not be back!

 
At 9/30/2007 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I am insulting you for being an idiot.

 
At 10/01/2007 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grow up!

 

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