As initiatives go, it may not drive the most passion across a broad section of Sioux Falls folks. Nonetheless, a focused system for settling disputes among tenants and landlords should be a worthy future goal.

With only a few months before leaving office because of term limits, Sioux Falls City Councilor Michelle Erpenbach told the Patrick Lalley Show the next group of Councilors should have the city look into establishing a housing court.

“What it does is it takes the landlord-tenant issues out of the court system. If you’re behind on your rent or you’ve torn up your apartment, a landlord (who needs to collect on damages) will take that tenant to housing court. We would actually resolve those issues quickly and outside the court system where it’s super expensive.”

Erpenbach learned during her time in office that by enforcing city codes in neighborhoods provides quality of life benefits. She feels the citizens would be greatly served by this arbitration method.

“The people that I’m the most concerned about when it comes to code enforcement and neighborhood quality are not only the landlords, but we’re also talking about the neighbors that live next door to the less than desirable rentals and the renters. Those three groups need to be protected and the housing court is the way to do that. It’s being done all over the country. Sioux Falls has to head that direction.”

Housing courts could also be used as a guide for home owners who face eviction due to foreclosure. Erpenbach currently represents the Central District on the Sioux Falls City Council.

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