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Solberg wants to require HUD recipients in Mason City to buy renter’s insurance

This news story was published on December 5, 2012.
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Janet Solberg instructs city staff to pursue a requirement of HUD renters in Mason City to purchase renter’s insurance. You can buy renter’s insurance from Solberg at her insurance office on 2ns Street SW.

MASON CITY – At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, fourth ward council member Janet Solberg said she wants to require people in Mason City who pay rent and take HUD assistance to buy renter’s insurance.

Citing “a couple of fires” that she says were “due to tenant’s negligence,” Solberg claimed that Mason City is “losing these houses on our property tax payroll.”

Solberg, a long-time insurance salesperson, said she was interested in this idea because “the landlords are just bulldozing them in,” referring to the damaged homes.  She claims to be concerned about the loss of property tax after the homes are gone. “I’m kinda concerned about the house fires as well,” Solberg said.

City Administrator Brent Trout, acknowledging that Solberg, himself and the city’s legal representatives have traded emails on the matter and are pursuing it, said in response to Solberg that “the city attorney was very interested in trying to see what we could find out. I think it would be a good enhancement to the program. The concerns that he and I expressed are can we legally require that. I think that that’s something worth pursuing. We’re going to try and pursue that to the end and determine whether or not we can establish that as a requirement.”

“So if it’s just something that maybe potentially look into to see if there is any possibility there … I’d keep as many properties on the tax roles as possible,” Solberg said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Rights division was contacted today for their opinion on any requirement by a city that would force HUD recipients to purchase renter’s insurance.

“That would be discriminatory,” a case worker said.  “That would be a bad thing.  Forcing or requiring a group or class of people to do something, but not making the same requirement of all renters could be considered discrimination.”

Solberg sells insurance for Corcoran & Associates, Inc. A call to their Des Moines office today confirmed that they do offer renter’s insurance.  “You need to call our Mason City office, they can assist you with that,” the woman at the Des Moines office said.

Watch video of council discussion:


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54 Responses to Solberg wants to require HUD recipients in Mason City to buy renter’s insurance

  1. MrsS Reply Report comment

    December 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Renters insurance is an individual decision & it should be! Maybe if the houses are starting on fire, look into it & CHARGE the tenants with criminal activity. The house on 12th that started on fire last year was the tenants fault & no charges were even filed. Ridiculous!!!!

    • Katie Reply Report comment

      December 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      If they don’t buy renter’s insurance, then quit having fundraisers for these people who didn’t help themselves by buying it once they have lost everything and have no way to replace it. They can do without cable TV or an Internet connection if they can’t afford renter’s insurance. No one knows how to sacrifice luxuries for necessities any more.

  2. Joe Reply Report comment

    December 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Requiring renter’s insurance should remain up to each landlord and he can put it in the lease. Most kid’s can’t afford the rent these days or high car insurance. This has got to be a conflict of interest by Solberg. PLEASEEEEEEEE help vote her out!

  3. Observer Reply Report comment

    December 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    One has to ask, why a person, in the business to sell insurance, make such a demand?

    Is it ethical to be in a potential position to profit from her actions as a government official? Is it?

    If this ordinance passes, one should expect the ethical thing for Mrs. Solberg, first off is to recuse herself from debating or voting upon it. Then Mrs. Solberg and the firm she represents, should refrain from further sales of this type of insurance.

    Otherwise, it gives an appearance of impropriety.

  4. Worried Reply Report comment

    December 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    First and foremost this is a discriminatory practice and should have been stopped right there at the table that night. I cannot believe that professional people would even allow this to be talked about let alone considered by an attorney.

    Second, not everyone is even eligible to purchase coverage possibly due to insurance company’s rules and regulations.

    Third, as said by others, a landlord more than likely has insurance, but even if the tenant does and it were to pay because of negligence of the tenant there is nothing in place to make the landlord rebuild.

    Fourth, it is more than likely that an owner occupied home would generate more taxes and there is nothing in place to make them rebuild.

    Fifth, HUD does a service to help people in need to provide safe and affordable housing. The HUD office spends a huge amount in this community by paying landlords and in turn the tenants also spend money in Mason City. I would venture a guess that this totals millions of dollars a year. Where would the city be without this money?

    Sixth, Janet if you are looking to increase your business maybe instead of trying to pass a discriminatory law just buy an advertisement or go out and work hard. You can’t force people to buy from you.

  5. Iowa Reply Report comment

    December 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

    How does she think renters insurance will keep the Landlord from collecting his insurance that he has on the property less the deductable and then vacate the lot? I thought she knew that renters insurance only covered the contents unless they caused the damage in that case her insurance would reimburse the Landlords insurance carrier. Now tell me how this would save the property. Guess you get as much business and you can force them to buy.

    • 50 miles south Reply Report comment

      December 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Thats why people of mason city should convince the council a better option would be to adopt an ordinance forcing landlords to rebuild after a loss. I feel the council will get alot more controversy from landlords on this subject over HUD recipiants.

  6. Concerned Reply Report comment

    December 6, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Individuals who rent “should” carry renters insurance based on their own free will. If they have anything of value, its just commom sense to protect it. I don’t have a clue how HUD works however, I beleive its put in place to help those who can’t afford larger payments…I am for it considering everyone needs a roof over their head…some may differ
    As far as bulldozing rental property after damaged has occured…fine by me…. half the rental houses in MC don’t meet code as it is…just irritates me thinking of another family living on the streets.

  7. Polio Loco Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    When I rented, I had to have renter’s insurance as a condition of rental. Good landlords will do this as they also have their properties insured as well. Thay may be the bottom line issue.

  8. ArmBears Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Note that our city administrator and attorney have traded emails and seem to have some initial interest in Solberg’s delusionary thinking. That makes this whole concept even more frightening.

    • Polio Loco Reply Report comment

      December 7, 2012 at 1:13 am

      You know that emails between city hall and the council are public record, don’t you? Wanna know what they said, go ask for them. Be prepared to pay for the copies, but they are public information.

  9. 50 miles south Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Any thought that Solberg and the council are directing this tward a certain type of people they want out of town. their way of cleaning up the north end?

  10. yes Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I am on disability from an injury in iraq and I am on hud. My rent also includes insurance, I am also on food stamps but my food stamps went from 300 a month to 24 a month and I have 3 kids to support. If it wasn’t for the insurance being included in my payment I couldn’t afford it, I can’t afford food as it is for my family. I make things, furniture, to sell to make ends meet but with my injuries I can’t work for long periods of time before the pain is too much to stand. I am doing what I can for my family and even after almost 20 years in the military I am not asking the government for much. I was told that the food stamps went down because of programs that obama pushed through, I guess he has to spread the money around. People that are on HUD are there for a reason, they cannot afford the full rent and if they can’t afford the full rent what makes these people believe that they can afford insurance too? Looks like if this does happen we might have an influx of homeless families here in town and alot of empty houses.

  11. Leo Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I’m a landlord. I make all tennants purchase rentors insurance, prepaid, 1 year or they don’t get in. It’s cheap, it protects all their belongings and possibly them, in the event they cause a problem. It’s called financial responsibility. What the heck is the problem with that?

    • JB Johnson Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      that’s fine. that is between you and the renter. not the role of government

    • 50 miles south Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      other than a rider, where the renter is liable for a portion of the building itself, if they are responsable for damages. why would you care if the renter insured their own property? your not responsable for it, they are.

    • Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

      April 4, 2013 at 2:29 am

      Learn to spell Joe, or Leo, or Better Yet, or Charles, or whatever troll name you want to go by today. What does it feel like to have no spine, no guts, to hide behind a fake name? Can you honestly look your wife in the face in the morning and convince her you are a man?

  12. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Keep electing these Communists, they just keep voting to take away your freedom!

    This country out of of control!!!

  13. 50 miles south Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    so whats wrong with tearing down old, worn down, possable eye sore houses on the north side. sooo many people here complain about the look of the north side and wish somone would do something. Has Mason City ever condemed a house on the north side and then wanted it torn down? Also if Janet is sooo concerned, then she should be after the landlords to require insurance

  14. Kathy Fraser Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Mighty slippery slope, there Janet. What’s next? Requiring everyone to have a minimum of two dogs so the licensing revenue goes up?

    This isn’t any of the city’s business. Get to work.

  15. John Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    “That would be discriminatory,” a case worker said. “That would be a bad thing. Forcing or requiring a group or class of people to do something, but not making the same requirement of all renters could be considered discrimination.”

    (Then why is Obama care legal using the same logic?)

  16. Laughter Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I would like to start out with HUD… To get on HUD you have to prove you do not have income to pay full rent. So the GOVERMENT (TAX PAYERS) subsidize the portion of Rent to Landlords that are HUD qualifed. So now require the peoples deemed to be indegint to carry renters insurance… hmm want to guess who will subisidize that bill The GOVERMENT ( TAX PAYERS) Great solution. (NOT) I would guess the Landlords had insurance and collected but did not feel is was fiscally responsible for their Landlord business to rebuild, they did not collect what it would cost to rebuild. Better to sell an empty lot and let someone else build… How about if you are worried about collecting Tax dollars you quit letting Mercy tear down houses that generate revenue for the city as Mercy does not pay taxes to the city they are tax exempt for thier not for profit business status and the service they provide… I am tired of the same people recycling their ideas that DO NOT WORK and we keep electing them.

    • Katie Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Yes, and who would want to build a new house on the north end next to some drug den?

  17. anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I rent my home. And I do not have a HUD home.
    I carry renters insurance and YES the owner has insurance on the property. It is in my lease agreement that I am required to carry renter’s insurance. My coverage not only covers my personal belongings but it also covers a dollar amount of the dwelling if something happened that was my fault. For instance, leaving a pot of grease on the stove and burned the house down. There’s nothing wrong with being required to have insurance especially if the landlord also has insurance on the dwelling.
    And no I’m not Janet, not a fan of Janet.

  18. blog Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    The ginger line is one of the best I have heard.

  19. 4ever49 Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Why, don’t landlords have property insurance – even property rented to others can be insured. Just an expense of doing business.

    • Katie Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      How is a landlord supposed to know how much property a renter owns? If the renter owns a $5,000 painting, $5,000 entertainment system, and a $100,000 diamond and platinum ring, should he have to cover that? Those go on a homeowner’s policy. Plus, a landlord would have to pass on the cost of property insurance to the renter. That’s the way it works. You rent property to make income, not to take a loss.

      • duh Reply Report comment

        December 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

        Katie, The landlord would only in the sure dwelling,not the contents.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        December 5, 2012 at 7:39 pm

        $100,000 diamond ring? WHO do you think is renting these days? Talk about out of touch.

      • 50 miles south Reply Report comment

        December 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm

        shakes head at Katie

      • Katie Reply Report comment

        December 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        4ever49 said he thought the landlords should insure the property as part of the cost of doing business. I read it that he meant property of renters. That’s what I was responding to. I guess I read it wrong. SORRY!!!. Would it really surprise you if some of these drug dealers had $100,000 rings? Some of those gold necklaces they sometimes wear are worth a LOT. They have to invest their profits in something and they can’t put it in bank accounts. They may hide out in crappy rentals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have assets. Ask the cops who have busted some of their lairs. And I wasn’t just talking about HUD here.

  20. armchair captain Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Solberg,

    If you are to embarressed to go take a americian national government class to under stand what you are proposing is beyond the scope of government, NIACC offers courses.

    Might not be a bad idea before the NCAAP or our own civil rights division tries to sue the city again.

    Oh who am I kidding…..She is a ginger….Everybody knows gingers have no souls.

  21. GoofyGal Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I read on NIT that this yahoo wanted to copyright any videos of council meetings. Really, is this woman playing with a full deck? Where did I read that she sued her own daughter?

  22. Katie Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    My jaw dropped when I read this ridiculous proposal. I did not watch the video. Is Janet Solberg really that unknowledgeable and naive when she is actually supposedly in the insurance business? Others have explained the errors in her thinking, but I’m still in shock that she thought renters insurance would somehow keep houses on the tax rolls.

    Personally, I think anyone who doesn’t purchase renters insurance is nuts. I think landlords should require it of their renters, if that is legal, which I’m not sure. I would want to be able to hold a renter responsible for any wrongdoing that led to the destruction of my property, such as leaving a candle burning, a pan on the stove, or a meth lab explosion.

    I don’t understand why a city couldn’t require renters insurance of HUD recipients. People who get SBA loans have to meet all kinds of requirements that other people don’t have to meet. People who build homes financed by the government have to meet special more restrictive building codes and jump through a bunch of hoops that regular borrowers don’t have to. I can’t believe our generous government hasn’t already included renters insurance as part of their rent subsidy! Gee, why don’t all you liberals write to your congressmen to get a law passed so all the insurance agents can start having to provide reduced cost subsidized renters insurance for all the people who are already sucking our country’s taxpayers dry.

  23. LJ Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    First and foremost,renters insurance will not in any way keep the landlords from bulldozing the houses and not putting them back up. In fact this very thing happened to my sister and they barely had time to go in and see what they could salvage before the CITY REQUIRED the house to be BULLDOZED. The fact that she works for Corcoran & Ass. she should know this, so tonight I will call her boss Mick and see if he knows what a city official who happens to sell insurance for him is trying to discriminate against HUD recipients. Knowing Mick as I personally do for the last 26 years, would not want any employee representing his company to do such a thing. It makes it look like his company would do anything for business and I know that is so far from the way he runs things and would want his company portrayed.

    • 50 miles south Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      thats right LJ. And tell everyone NOT TO DO BUISNESS WITH Corcoran & Ass. Also show that owner what I have posted, and remind him that everyone had read it. Have a nice day at work Janet.

  24. Mcdgk Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    A definite conflict if interest on Janet’s part. She sells insurance. Renters insurance only covers renters belongings, not the property that is rented by them. Time for new council members. Can’t wait for this election. I live in Janet’s ward and will not be voting for her this time around.

  25. Michael Servantez Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Solberg should know, that renter insurance covers the renters contents, not the dwelling. The landlords should carry dwelling insurance to protect the dwelling, that way that would help keep from bulldozing the dwelling. I have seen the landlords on a case when the dwelling is destroyed, they just get the money and run anyway. The landlords usually carry insurance on the dwellings. This proposal will not work. She should know that. If these people are on HUD, there is a reason, they can’t afford it. It is their loss if their contents are destroyed. Auto Insurance is a completely different than renters insurance, the risk exposure and premiums are very different. Think of this, Maybe there is a way for her agency that she works for and her to make a little more money on this proposal, just saying. Don’t really know, just to start someone thinking. When she talks, it never amazes me what comes out of her mouth. I have been in the insurance business for over 30 years, and know this.

    • Rahmbo Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Her proposal is just illogical and wrongheaded on about any level I can think of.

      If this is the quality of elected officialdom in our fair city, we’re doomed.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      December 6, 2012 at 9:27 am

      EXACTLY!! Renters insurance doesn’t pay for the damaged structure, only the renter’s possessions. This in no way can help keep property on the tax-rolls. This is nothing more than an attempt to pass self-serving legislation. Solberg should be ashamed for trying to use her position for personal gain!!

  26. Mike Petersen Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Geeze, it’s not enough that the feds are stomping all over our rights but it’s moved on to local government now! Oh man, this ticks me off to no end, eventually there is going to be an all out revolt, hopefully sooner than later!

  27. anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be required to carry renters insurance. It’s cheap, about 20 bucks a month. If you have a vehicle that is financed it is the law to have insurance, it should be the same for renters. It not only protects the owner of the home, but protects the renter also.

  28. not good Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I would prefer a manditory drug test

  29. 4th Ward Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    With all due respect, Janet, you would come across as more professional and serious if you would lose the words “kinda” and “like” from your vocabulary. Those words make you seem trite and uncertain of your own ideas.

  30. Rahmbo Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Ha, when I read the first paragraph first thing I thought was what’s the council-critter’s connection to the insurance business. Was gonna google it, but lo and behold, it was in the article.

    The fact that this person proposes this

    1)as a condition for a federal program over which she has no authority,

    2)doesn’t seek it for all renters,

    3) nor apparently doesn’t seek it for the owners of the rental property (which I assume would cover the casualty loss),

    4) doesn’t address that once any insurance pays up, the owner is still free to bulldoze the property

    5) and doesn’t require it for all homeowners

    shows the low intelligence of the council and the waste of time and taxpayer dollars they may well end up throwing at this stupidity.

    Hey, I’m all for keeping rental units on the market, but this move is so bogus it’s laughable.

    Can’t we do better in our elected officials?

  31. ArmBears Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I wonder just how much money is pumped into this community by renters in general and HUD recipients specifically. Many millions I would imagine, more than enough to send out the fire trucks from time to time. If you really want to tackle a public health and safety issue lets figure out a way for the city to get reimbursed for the cost of police time dedicated to many in this population.

    • Rahmbo Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      The police are reimbursed. It’s called salary. If you want to have the cops reimbursed by the miscreants as a source of funding, good luck to that.

      In a budget or funding crunch, just think of the possibilities: cops would have a speed trap every block, the war on drugs (already a funding mechanism) could go whole hog, etc.

  32. LVS Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I really do not think that you can single out one group of people. The only way it could be done is to make it an ordinance that covers all renters. Not that it is a bad idea but I do not know how it would be enforced. They can’t even enforce auto insurance. All they do is but it for the month and then they get in and everyone forgets about it. We had a family up here in the damn North End that was driving a vehicle with Minnesota plates that had expired a year ago so it would be a good bet that they didn’t have a valid Iowa license or insurance. The sherrif puled them over twice that I know of and just let them go. Hard to enforce a new law when the old ones are not enforced.

    • Rahmbo Reply Report comment

      December 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      If the purpose of the proposal is to keep housing units on the tax rolls, why not require insurance of every property owner, whether a rental or not?

      Yes, I now, if you own a property outright imho you are dumb as dirt not to have insurance anyway, but no doubt there are dumb as dirt property owners in Mason City—goes without saying.

  33. notfooled Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Where was Solberg when the vote was made to allow Mercy to bulldoze the homes on 1st street?

  34. got it Reply Report comment

    December 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

    of course she does! she works at all risk insurance if i remember right!