Concerns over landlords’ lack of action to help Ferguson flood victims arise

Across the greater St. Louis, there are growing concerns that out-of-state landlords may try to...
Across the greater St. Louis, there are growing concerns that out-of-state landlords may try to dodge fixing damages sustained in last month’s flooding. Now, city leaders in Ferguson are working overtime to hold landlords accountable.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 5:52 AM CDT
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FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOV) - Across the greater St. Louis, there are growing concerns that out-of-state landlords may try to dodge fixing damages sustained in last month’s flooding. Now, city leaders in Ferguson are working overtime to hold landlords accountable.

The city refers to these landlords as absentee landlords. They own the houses here, rent them out, but live out of state. Most residents fear that they don’t qualify for a bulk of FEMA aid and landlords won’t step up to fix the damages from last month’s flooding.

“We’ve had a hard time getting in contact with them when we see code violations on their property,” Ferguson City Manager Eric Osterberg said. “So we’re concerned and anticipating that a lot of those landlords might not actually be aware of the flood damage and if they are aware they may not be all that willing to reach out to SBA to get the loans and make the repairs on the homes.”

Osterberg said 70 percent of their housing stock is renters. With individual assistance, Osterberg said FEMA does direct reimbursements of cost for loss and damages, but it’s only for people who own their own homes. However, since most residents rent, there are limitations on aid available.

Landlords will qualify for SBAs since the homes are considered businesses. The city is considering using ARPA funding and community development block grants to help--if needed.

But ultimately working to hold out-of-state landlords accountable.

“I think this is going to be an ongoing thing for the next few years I’d say. We already knew that we had some blight issues or properties that were not being managed correctly by out-of-state landlords,” he added. “So we were already looking at how to hold landlords more responsible with our code enforcement, but now we’re going to be looking at a situation where we have to be just a little bit more on it. "

The city has seen some success in getting absentee landlords to step up but that’s only when they get to the stage of putting a lien on the home which is why the process could take years to resolve.