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Nederland landlords responsible for unclaimed property

NEDERLAND — Nederland residents who rent out their houses and apartments will see a change in the way discarded property is handled after evictions.

The issue arises after a renter is evicted from a property and their left-behind items are placed on the curb.

“When these evictions happen, the contents are placed by the curb,” City Manager Chris Duque said. “We get complaints from the neighbors. That’s something we’ve been dealing with for several years and have been trying to take steps to manage that better.

“When that happens the utility-paying customers are paying for it. The landfill is still going to charge us. We don’t catch a break from them because someone else didn’t pay their bill. We get stuck footing that bill. It’s a loss and that loss has to be accounted for.”

The new policy would put responsibility on the property owner to dispose of the unclaimed contents.

Duque said he doesn’t believe the current system is fair.

“Our customers shouldn’t have to cover businesses,” he said. “That’s what rental properties are. That’s a business.”

The city will begin using the accumulation of trash and rubbish on property ordinance to get the lots cleaned.

“I’ll be meeting with my staff later this week to make sure we are on the same page,” Duque said. “We reached out to Constable (Robert) Adams to make sure to let us know when there is an eviction and contents are placed at the curb so that we can know and document that as quickly as possible.”

Duque said he will arrange a meeting with any landlords to discuss procedures in the upcoming weeks.

“All of these efforts are to beautify the neighborhoods and make sure the neighborhoods are protected,” Duque said. “Nobody wants to see that. Not only is it an eyesore, with all of the contents placed on the curb, some of them end up in the ditch. That becomes a drainage issue.

“You also have people who drive through the neighborhood starting to go through the pile. Sometimes the contents that are at the curb are on the street because they get scattered about.”

Duque said the issue doesn’t normally happen at apartment complexes, but more often at single-family dwellings.

Nederland also has more evictions than neighboring Port Neches and Groves. According to data Adams gave to the city, Nederland had 698 evictions over the last four years, compared to 432 and 321 in Groves and Port Neches, respectively.

Duque said that the instances are scattered around town and aren’t concentrated to a particular area.

The city does not want this to be seen as an anti-rental property move, Duque said.

“Rental property is important for younger couples,” Duque said. “I lived in rental property a lot before I came a homeowner. It’s just one of those things where you’re building money and trying to start your career.

“Rental property is important because there is going to be a part of your community that needs it. It’s ensuring that services are being provided fairly and making sure that the other customers aren’t absorbing the cost of that type of business.”