A house for rent, or an invitation for trouble? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A house for rent, or an invitation for trouble?

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A house for rent, or an invitation for trouble? Posts on the classifieds website Craigslist are prompting questions and concerns. It appears some landlords are capitalizing on Waterloo's bad reputation to attract renters.

There's nothing wrong with sprucing up an ad, or using an eye-catching headline, to attract renters to a property. But some of the listings we found on Craigslist seem to be crossing the line between provocative and profane.

"It's pissing me off looking at this. This is my neighborhood right here," said long-time Waterloo resident Santonyo Pendleton.

This is the post which first caught our attention: "3 bedroom, Gangsta's Paradise... No deposit required. Pay your rent on time, and you never see me poking around in your business."

It's upsetting for neighbors near the home on Manson street, who have worked hard to end crime and violence in the area.

"The landlord over here, he outta be ashamed of himself," said Pendleton.

"It's just a lot of older folks. Everyone down here, they stick together," added neighbor Mersedez Benson.

Police say, the post may even be illegal.

"We have some pretty specific rules on gangs and gang activity and encouraging an abetting gang activity. And that's one thing we're going to look into with these posts," said Director of Waterloo Safety Services Dan Trelka.

We did find other troubling listings. For example: "Tired of low-class high crime Waterloo? Come to La Porte City. No crack heads in our little town."

That one caught the attention of the Human Rights Commission. Director Abraham Funchess believes, it violates the Fair Housing Act, and called it a "very disturbing development."

Trelka said, at the very least, it's irresponsible.

"I'm all for free speech. But don't kick Waterloo around. And don't beat up on Waterloo," he added.

Neighbors tell us, these kinds of bad jokes are discouraging, but they know their streets are improving.

"Glad my son can walk up and down the street now, and won't get into a fight for nothing," said Benson.

"They're trying to make our street look real bad, it's not bad. At all," Pendleton agreed.

Trelka forwarded on the listings we sent him to investigators. They are going to look into who posted the ads, and whether they had any criminal intent. We did try to contact the landlord of the "Gangsta's Paradise" through email, we have not heard back from him or her.

Funchess is also sending the ads to the Regional Fair Housing Office. He believes at least one may violate a law against discriminating or showing preference based on -- among other things -- race, color, or religion.

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