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Letter to the Editor

By Staff | Jul 13, 2010

Letter to the Editor and Mr. Loeschen about new rental standards (from July 2nd):

Perhaps I can give you a little background on why these ordinances are DESPERATELY needed in the city of Estherville. We are a large family, super responsible, with very well-behaved children. We have paid our rent dutifully each and every month to another landlord here in town, even though the living conditions he provides are deplorable.

For over a year now we have been dealing with a leaky roof. In the winter of 2009, our roof started leaking very intermittently. We were promised a new roof in the summer of 2009. It never happened. Last winter, the conditions became almost unbearable. I had 15 buckets in my living room collecting water from all the leaks. Again, we were promised a new roof. Now, due to the continued inattention, our roof is leaking continually. Part of our upstairs ceiling has collapsed … and our landlord said “put some plywood over it” and would not even COME when we called to tell him about the collapse! That soaking wet sheetrock is now moldy and my entire upstairs smells like mold. I fear that this will become a huge health problem for my children.

We have spoken with legal aid. Basically, tenants have no recourse in the state of Iowa. None. We cannot even withhold rent, as this would be grounds for a lawsuit. We can give 7 days notice to fix or we will move … unfortunately, that would involve having a place to move TO. Not an easy task here in Estherville. I have actually had 2 different landlords hang up on me when they found out how many children I have. We are not from this part of the country originally, and I must say that this type of treatment of tenants would never have been allowed where we came from. I understand that this area generally sees renters as transient, irresponsible people. This is not always the case! This situation has literally left a bad taste in my mouth for this area. My husband is in school and we will be leaving this area as soon as he is finished.

So, you, Mr. Loeschen, may feel that your “college kids” are not worth being in “better hands.” I implore you to please remember, they are not the only families involved in unsafe living conditions … and I am not doing it by CHOICE at all! And especially not on a “healthy liquid diet.”

Kris Newton,