St Louis Real Estate – What happened to property rights?


Dennis Norman

This story is part of my ongoing series on how local laws negatively impact the property rights of property owners in the St. Louis area

Unfortunately I don’t have to try too hard to find examples of local laws that seriously impact the rights of property owners in the St. Louis area, particularly those property owners that are landlords or other investors.

My story today comes from a friend of mine, a St. Louis REALTOR(R) that buys homes for his rental portfolio.  For the sake of the article, and to help him avoid retaliation from Velda City, I’m going to refer to this person as “Joe” in this article. 

Joe’s story is interesting, and scary.  Joe purchased a home in Velda City, a small municipalty of 1,600 people with an average household income of $35,745, and one of 91 municipalities in St. Louis County, Missouri.  Joe’s plan to was to rehab the house and rent it.

Velda City has an ordinance that requires an inspection by the City of the home before not only someone can move into the home (which is sort of typical), but also before ANY work can be done to the property.  This part of the ordinance is a little unusual…most municipalities allow a property owner to work on their property and try to bring it in compliance with all local building codes prior to having it inspected so long as the house is not occupied prior to being “passed” by the city.

In this case, my friend Joe went by the house he bought one day after buying it so that he could show a prospective tenant the house and describe the improvements he was going to make as well as to leave a few tools in the garage. 

Joe was present at the home he had purchased for a total of about 15 minutes when the Velda City Police showed up.  They questioned why he was “on” his property prior to getting the home inspected.  He explained that he was just showing the house to someone and dropping off some tools in the garage and assured the officer that no work was being done to the property.  Unfortunately Joes explanation didn’t matter, the officer wrote him a ticket for, basically being in the home he owned. 

So Joe got a ticket for being present on his property basically.


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