Springfield landlord will have to operate 417 Rentals by strict rules under bankruptcy protection

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A Springfield landlord will have to change the way he conducts business.

The bankruptcy case of 417 Rentals, owned by Chris Gatley, is getting closer to being resolved.

Gatley filed for chapter eleven protection last August. Court documents say the debt he owes far outweighs what the assets belonging to his company are worth.

In order to pay off what he owes to the banks, his attorney has submitted a plan that would keep 417 Rentals in business.

"He drove his business into the ditch," says Assistant City Attorney for Springfield, Duke McDonald.

We've reported on dozens of properties managed by 417 Rentals, owned by Chris Gatley that weren't fit to live in.

"One of the things that has struck me about Gatley's empire, if you will, is that he owns so many properties, so many properties. I think that's not a plausible scenario. It doesn't make sense to try to operate so many properties especially as the Lone Ranger, as a one man show," says McDonald.

His company owns and manages more than 500 rental properties throughout the Ozarks.

Gatley's attorney, Ron Weiss, says filing for Chapter 11 protection won't be the end of 417 Rentals.

"People hear the word bankruptcy and they think well, it's time to call the undertaker," he says.

It's a chance for Gatley to rebuild his company.

"The whole purpose of Chapter 11 is to perpetuate the ongoing business," he says.

However, paying off is debts isn't the only thing Gatley has to do in order to save his business.

Springfield is insisting that Gatley follow strict rules to ensure that his properties offer safe, clean, affordable housing.

The list includes:

Responding to a dangerous building complaint letter within 72 hours of receiving it with how he plans to make repairs.

If a renter finds a major problem with a property within 24 hours of moving in, not only can they move out but they are entitled to get their security deposit back.

Allow rental properties to be inspected by the city before anyone moves in.

"If you try to fudge here and there and you cut corners and you let properties get dilapidated and worn out you're going to go down the hill. You're going to go under like Chris Gatley has," says McDonald.

If Gatley fails to follow any of the cities rules he could lose his business.

"If you do not honor your plan I can go to Judge Norton and say 417 Rentals has not honored its plan and I would like you to take a look at forcing them into liquidation or sanctioning them in some way or enforcing the plan on them," explains McDonald.

There are many more regulations the city insists on Gatley following in order to keep 417 Rentals' doors open.

A judge has the final say on if the business plan submitted to the court is approved.

A hearing on when this will happen has not be set yet.