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May 28, 2013 - 1:21pm

Council to consider law to license landlords, institute fines for nuisance tenants

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, neighborhood improvement.

To help cut down on problems with some of the residential renters in the City of Batavia, two council members are asking the council to consider a law that would license landlords and fine property owners who rent to nuisance tenants.

The proposal is on tonight's City Council agenda. The meeting begins at 7.

The proposal grew out of conversations between council members Brooks Hawley and Pier Cipollone and City Manager Jason Molino regarding problems in the Holland Avenue neighborhood.

Molino did some research and found that the Town of Niagara and the Town of Cheektowaga recently created a licensing scheme for landlords.

There are also fines for landlords if the police are called to a residence frequently.

Molino's memo on the law states, "It appears that this legislation attempts to hold landlords accountable for tenant behavior as well as provide easier methods for landlords to evict uncooperative tenants that are compromising the character of neighborhoods."

In Niagara, officials concluded that renting out residential rental property is a business and should be licensed like many other types of business.

Once licensed, officials will have a better paper trail on who the landlord of record is and then notify the landlord of potential problems.

Officials will track police calls to rental properties and three nuisance or criminal complaint calls in a year will result in a $50 fine; a fourth, $100; a fifth, $500 and each additional incident thereafter, $1,000 each.

The legislation in Niagara states that "residential rental properties may become a haven for various criminal or disruptive actives that can result in disorder in our community and affect the quality of life of others in the Town of Niagara."

Jen Reardon
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I think this is a great idea. Rental properties are becoming a real issue in this city and the condition of many of them is deplorable and bringing down our neighborhoods.

Jim Rosenbeck
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"Licensing scheme" is exactly what this would be Howard. Where there are licenses to be issued by the city, there are also licensing fees to be collected. Owners of rental properties are already subject to the same property codes the rest of us are subject to. Cite them, if they fail to maintain their property. Holding a property owner responsible for the potential criminal or nuisance behavior of his/ her tenants is coercive and wrong. Mr. Molino did a search and found that two communities have this type of licensing law. Based on Mr. Molino's search can we assume that licensing landlords isn't a common practice? Perhaps the reason for that is that such a law is patently unfair, oversteps the proper role of city government and holds a one person financially responsible for the behavior of another. I have to wonder how many violations an ambitious tenant might ring up during the two or three months it takes to evict him? No one wants to live near unruly neighbors or next to a neglected house. However, there are already existing laws that address these problems. Lets not create more government regulation when there is no compelling reason to do so.

Cecelia Lullo
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How will the city of Batavia make it easier to evict problem tenants? Will they create laws that supercede state laws and regulations? Will they offer free advice to a landlord doing an eviction so they won't have to pay attorneys. Will they change state laws so a landlord can serve the papers, versus having to pay the sheriff to serve notices? Will the police be more forthcoming with information about a prospective tenant, or is that an invasion of privacy? Will they have a quick turn around time on any freedom of information a landlord desires on a prospective tenant? The list can go on and on in ways the local municipality can assist a landlord with finding a good tenant-but those are all infringements on a prospective tenant's personal freedom.....

scott williams
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Absolutely needed but when your considering fines of $50 what will that deter? Nothing! I believe its time these absent landlords are held accountable, I mow the lawns of three neighboring houses because the landlords are only around to get their Hud checks and one is a city employee so good luck giving him a fine, they don't site him after many complaints. Lay out $500 fines for first offenses and you might get action or better yet every infraction is a month rent forfeiture. Holland is not the only street I fight for my neighborhood to not end up that way and its on the seesaw right now there is one property cops have been at at least five times this year but if neighbors called on everything it would be a lot more our Police are not private cops for landlords who rent to anything HUD throws their way.

Cecelia Lullo
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Why single out landlords for paying fines for police calls. Fine a homeowner as well if police are visiting their house for domestic calls, etc. Don't limit it to just one segment of society-include everyone!

Cheryl Wilmet
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I don't own rental property but to place the blame for a tenant's wrongdoing on a landlord is BS. Note the article says "licensing scheme" wonder also how much that license will cost.

Howard B. Owens
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The landlord has a lot to say about who he or she rents to and so does share the blame in many cases for tenant conduct.

Much can be known about a tenant's potential for being a nuisance or engaging in criminal conduct before a rental agreement is tendered.

That said, landlords will tell you they can't afford to let their properties sit vacant and stay in business and some properties will never attract stable, employed, never-in-trouble tenants.

To the people who critical of the idea, I'd like to know what solutions you propose?

John Roach
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There was a Nuisance Law recommended once before, but was tabled for the last 12 years or so. Maybe they should bring that one back up for another look?

Jim Rosenbeck
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We already have a city code that provides for dealing with any property owner that fails to maintain his/her property. We also have criminal law that quite effectively addresses
Illegal behavior. Why we would need a nuisance law is beyond my ability to comprehend. Can someone please define "nuisance"? Is it any behavior that comes from our neighbors yard that we don't like? Cecelia Lullo is absolutely correct. The city isn't going to be able to do anything to help landlords evict problem tenants. Tenants are going to continue to have due process. No judge is going to immediately put people on the street in order to rid the city of undesirable tenants. Licensing landlords and then subjecting them to fines if their tenants misbehave is just wrong. Lets hold all homeowners responsible for maintaining their properties and hold all residents responsible for their personal behavior. I encourage every landlord in Batavia to contact his/her city council person and the three Councilmen at large. Or, if you like higher taxes, say nothing and keep supporting bigger government.

Robert Brown
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Bigger pizzas, YES! Bigger government, NO!!!

Enforce the current laws, and if it's difficult to evict tenants who are breaking the laws, then look at the laws that are preventing eviction! Don't create another mound of absurdity to hide behind while collecting fees and pretending that you are representing city residents and business owners.

Gary Spencer
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I agree with those here who say this proposal is BS ~ however I do see where the city is coming from, there are a few landlords who rent to HUD tennants only, and these folks seem to be the ones who traditionnaly cause many problems. It is a tricky situation, because if my landlord gets fined for my mis-behaving why would I care? If he evicts me, its on to the next dump to do it all over again! He need to focus on the tennants who are nuisanses, not the landlord ~ we have all seen names o f folks here on thebatavian over and over again ~ so the city's idea is to chabge the landlord and alow the nuisance tennant to continue their chatic lefestyle? Does not make sense to me!

Howard B. Owens
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Codes are enforced.

Criminal law is enforced.

We still have landlords renting to residents that no responsible landlord should be renting to, Jim.

How is it that a person with two prior trips to state prison is able to rent an apartment on State Street, only to get arrested again for dealing drugs?
Arguing from the status quo isn't offering a solution to a very real problem. If you don't like this solution, what do you propose?

Rich Martin
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You have got to be kidding me!! Since when does a landlord have to do the job of the police? Their job is to maintain law and order. The landlord's job is to maintain their property. They have no right to tell others how to live their lives. Tenants happen to rent from the landlord..they are not the landlord's children! If tenants get out of hand or are a nuisance then the police should be notified. The guilty tenant should deal with the consequences- just like any other citizen who chooses to break the law.
Howard, your way off base on your response. Your talking about profiling. You can get yourself into trouble if you violate someone's privacy. There is only so much a landlord can find out about a person before he violates their privacy. Every landlord knows that every potential renter will swear that he/she is"quiet" a "clean freak" " doesn't party" "never has guests over" and is generally a "pillar of the community". And then call the current landlord for a reference and they will tell you that the tenant was great - just to get rid of that "clean, quiet, tenant" RIGHT!!
How are you going to control neighbors who see this as an opportunity to punish the landlord who owns the house? How do you stop his nuisance calls to city hall? How does the landlord defend him or her self from that?? Are all landlords presumed guilty of other peoples actions? This whole idea is lunacy. This is just what we need...more B/S laws to screw the tax payer!!!
Any landlord will tell you the the tenant has more rights than the owner because it's absolutely true. He will also tell you that the last thing he wants is a troublesome tenant. Eviction can go on for months and cost thousands in fees, losses and damages.
Lastly, you might want to consider that some of the blame should be shared by the City and the county for our overly generous Social Services programs and benefits that are handed out to a majority of the renters you are trying to control. It's no secret that the surrounding counties encourage some"clients" to move to Genesee County.
The bottom line is this is B/S and the council members should think twice about screwing their constituents who actually vote. Most tenants that this is meant to target have nothing invested in the Community and really don't care whether the landlord is punished for their actions or not. And by the way, who gets the bill if the unruly person actually owns the house? Is this the start of a pay per call for police service?

Jim Rosenbeck
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"How is it that a person with two prior trips to state prison is allowed to rent an apartment on State Street, only to get arrested again for dealing drugs?" This is how Howard; WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY! You and I don't get to have veto rights over who live next door. Howard, do I understand that you would support prohibiting people who have been to prison twice from being able to rent an apartment in the City of Batavia? Would you also support county wide legislation to prohibit convicted felons from renting in Genesee County? How about a state law banning two time felons from living in NYS? Just where would you have two time felons live?
Let me ask you Howard, if city codes are enforced and criminal laws are enforced, where is the problem? I think the problem lies in the fact that some people seem to have an incredible need to control the legal behavior of other people because they don't like it.

Howard B. Owens
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It's not a violation of privacy to use available public records for a background check. Nor is it profiling because it's not based on race, religion or preference, or any other generalized category. It's based on documented behavior. Landlords are under no obligation to rent to anybody who can't pass a basic background check.

Mark Potwora
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I'm sure most landlords have this in the lease..Where by they will be evicted if they are a problem ..Its getting them out that is the problem..No landlord wants criminals living and causing problems on there property..The city is going after the problem the wrong way..Its the tenant that is the problem not the landlord..Help the landlord in evicting the tenant would be a better start.

Bob Harker
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Ah, yes. Yet ANOTHER intrusion on our lives by government.

And Howard? Libertarian views should not be administered at the convenience of the moment!

Amy Rood
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amen

Gary Spencer
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This is another part of Batavia's plan to return multi-family dwellings to single occupancy houses, but they forget folks ain't buying houses in Batavia!

Mark Brudz
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The reason why nuisance laws work in the Town of Niagara, is because it is adjacent to the City Of Niagara Falls, thus a place to shove the undesirables so to speak.

The reason why nuisance laws work in the Town of Cheektowaga, is because the town borders the City of Buffalo, chase the less than desirable there.

In Genesee County, the City of Batavia IS THE BIG CITY as small as it is.

I hate driving down State Street, not sure that I would walk there actually. I hate that some people just can't get their life together and resort to living a life of alcohol, drugs, vandalism and petty theft {Which are basically your nuisance crimes]

So what is the solution? Do we create little leper colonies somewhere to cast all of the undesirable? Do we register every landlord so we can rid the city of derelicts with Gestapo like precision and force the landlord to be arbiters of our laws?

Is this entire proposal based on the fact that we need perhaps a few more Police officers and it is all about the money? Is it about perceived property values?

Again we are here licensing (essentially Taxing} small business people {landlords} and three times the insinuation on this thread that Landlords are pesky rich people stealing our money through HUD. Or the underlying 'Not In My Back Yard' sentiment.

The overwhelming majority of homes in the city of Batavia are in good, quiet neighborhoods, like all cities, some neighborhoods are rife with older, lesser kept homes where the uneducated, unprincipled tend to settle. Like all cities, these areas are the center of most of the crime and nuisance. And like ALL cities, there are those that believe that passing a law, taxing those who invest (In this case in rental property] will magically solve the problem.

There is no magic bullet on this one, and last I knew there were no leper colonies left in the state of NY. If you deny housing to someone one street, they will still have to find another street to live on, so legislation like this doesn't solve the problem, it just pushes it on someone else's shoulders.... The only answer I see is quick, decisive law enforcement, followed by harsh penalty not for the landlord, but for the person who commits the crime.

The codes, the laws and the capable police department are in place... If you want to pass a law, pass local ordinances on public drunkenness, continual nuisance offender laws and public service penalties [Put the convicted to work sweeping sidewalks or picking up papers on the streets] but don't create another license scheme, or another bureaucracy

Kyle Couchman
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This is a more complicated issue than the City would have us believe. First of all there is sorting out the details, if a tenant has guests which cause the nuisance are they liable? What if there are 2 or 3 incidents that when they are sorted out in court turn out to be no billed or charges dropped or so on. Can you evict just on the police visits or does there have to be a conviction on the charge. The state already has quite a bit of this covered in landlord tenant laws. I see this as a money grab...1 for the licensing fees, 2 for the fines.

As was pointed out the City can do nothing to make evicting tenants easier with this, all they do is harass the landlord. The landlord doesnt have the right to just walk into properties nor are they allowed to sit outside and pick at every little thing. If you go before a judge with a bunch of these "Police visits" you arent going to get very far with a judge. Even non payment of rent takes about 11 days and if the tenant cant find another residence the judge can extend this. There are also HUD rules as well that can muck up the ability of a Landlord to evict without an overabundance of "cause" and I believe police visits cant be used legally as a reason for eveiction unless there is an arrest and/or conviction.

If you want an idea of how this works check out this from the State Attorney General's Office...

http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Tenant_Rights...

This so called solution doesnt give any more power to a landlord, just gives the city the power to punish and harass them monetarily. For all we know these laws in Niagara and Cheektowaga may not withstand being challenged in a court. Either that or they will drive off landlords and the city will end up with a bunch of empty run down properties wich will eventually end up with squatters and or vermin and be a drag on the tax base.

Is that what we want?

Phil Ricci
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I have always asked a simple thing of my government. Does your new law solve the problem?

I do not think this is a difficult request, but yet it is rarely acheived. This is yet another example of that.

So you want to stop landlords from renting to people who are problems, and get rid of them if they are, or you'll fine them.

Here is why this is incredibly flawed. First the license, someone stated how you need a license to run a business. Kind of, if you are a Sole Prop, you need what is known as a DBA (doing business as). That's it. To require another license to be a landlord solves no problem, and merely creates another layer of waste in government. Any violations will be publicly listed on the property anyway, so then need for this is superficial at best, superfluous at worst.

Next, at exactly what point does it become a business owner's responsibility what their customer does. If a group of diners at Settler's decide to start a food fight and throw a French Fries in another's eye, should the owner be fined?

Also, does the city of Batavia now have the legal right to supersede state and federal housing laws? How exactly will they make it easy to evict quicker, and who will defend the landlord when they are sued? Will our tax dollars cover that?

Also, does anyone find it interesting that landlords can be fined for a service that they pay taxes for? I mean last I checked, police are one of the largest expenses in our tax bill. So now you will find a property owner who uses that particular service too much?

Let's be candid here folks. We have more than a few slumlords in this town. Their properties are crap, and their tenants are not always ideal neighbors, but taking away my personal belief in personal freedom and liberty, how exactly does any of this solve the problem? How will a license fee, and a fine for too many police calls actually stop things?

Instead of punishment, why not help solve the problem. Create a voluntary database for both landlords and tenants to see what or who are good or bad tenant/landlords. Who pays on time, fixes things when called, had police calls, was arrested while in the home, had code violations.

Freedom people is the culmination of education and choice. It is everyone's personal responsibility to learn and choose. Government should not be doing it for us. If you have a problem with a landlord in your community, get you community together and tell them!

Howard B. Owens
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Localism before libertarianism, Bob. I've always said that.

I'm majorly out of step with any libertarian that equates local government to big government.

Local government is the government that really matters. It's the one level of government that is vitally necessary.

If you don't want live according to a set of community standards, then don't live in a community. Live out in the woods somewhere.

When there is a community problem, it is up to the local government to address it. The local government isn't some bureaucrat in Albany or Washington. The local government is you and me. It reflects what we put into it and if we don't like what it's doing, then maybe we're not putting enough into it.

And if we don't like what it's doing, or proposing to do, it's not enough to just complain about it. The appropriate response is to offer up real solutions and real ideas, not just to say, "nah, that own't work," or "I don't like it."

There are property owners in this community who seem not to care who they rent to nor how their properties are kept. If not for code enforcement, they would never paint, repair gutters or deal with weeds. Such landlords are a problem for the whole community. There are landlords that don't care who they rent to so long as the taxpayer-funded check keeps getting deposited into their accounts on time. To me, that's a community problem.

It continues to baffle me and will baffle me as long as it continues as to why certain people who's criminal conduct is well documented are able to continually find rental property to live in. I consider this a problem for the community that should be addressed by the community (which includes responsible landlords and means going through the City Council as the appropriate level of government to deal with the problem).

Jim wrote, "do I understand that you would support prohibiting people who have been to prison twice from being able to rent an apartment in the City of Batavia?"

I never said that -- I asked how is it possible that such a person is able to find a rental in the City of Batavia?

Jim wrote, "Would you also support county wide legislation to prohibit convicted felons from renting in Genesee County?"

Again, I never even suggested anything close to this -- where do you get such ridiculous rhetoric. I said there's a problem and I asked you what your solution is. I still haven't heard it.

Jim wrote, "How about a state law banning two time felons from living in NYS? "

Again with the off-the-wall rhetoric that dodges the issue. I've not once mentioned NYS in my comments. I only care about Batavia, nor have I called for laws prohibiting landlords from renting to anybody. I've simply asked why do landlords do it with the corollary that if they do, aren't they somehow responsible for the conduct of people no reasonable landlord -- in my belief -- would rent to?

Mark wrote, "No landlord wants criminals living and causing problems on there property." The proof is in the pudding, Mark. If your statement is true, how come so many landlords don't do basic background checks and then not rent to people with criminal records?

What some people don't seem to get is that I'm not defending the proposal (which isn't really a proposal, just a discussion item), but defending the idea that if you're going to attack it, don't just attack it, but offer something constructive to deal with a real problem. If you search our site or 112 State St. you'll find 13 arrest reports. 218 State St has nine. 119 State St. has nine. That's an issue worth addressing if you want to see real community and neighborhood improvement.

Jim, I addressed this issue the other day and you never responded that I recall -- as a libertarian, do you believe it's OK for people to steal from other people? So if one property owner is willfully driving down the property value of another property owner, isn't that theft? I don't believe libertarianism means "every man an island." We're still part of a community that must seek community solutions to the whole community's betterment. To do nothing robs us all the opportunity to benefit from the most from the fruits of our labor.

Howard B. Owens
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Phil, I don't believe either the landlords nor the city can create such a database. For landlords, it gets into the realm of blacklisting and for the government, there are due process issues involved.

And due process is a substantial weakness of the Town of Niagara law. A complaint does not equal conviction and to levy a fine based on a compliant violates, I believe, due process.

Phil Ricci
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Fair enough, so it seems to me that the whole thing is flawed. I disagree with this approach.

Thomas Mooney
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Great Idea . Take back our community .

Julie A Pappalardo
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OK, THIS wins the prize for the most ludicrous thing the City has ever done (and YOU thought they couldn't get any crazier after the "garbage wars")..

Here is my prediction for the future of Batavia:

1. By August 1, garbage is going to be EVRYWHERE because there are now how many garbage companies trolling the streets? Does anyone even know when to put their garbage out? what about the recycling??? who knows (shrug) ... enter the RATS..and probably a boom in the feral cat population (cause the South side needs THAT)..Not to mention the people with "hoarding potential" (you know how that is going to work out)

2. By punishing Landlords (for other peoples behavior), some landlords are just going to either walk away, or option "B": give it to a nonprofit (which several property owners have already done as to escape the tyranny)

More than HALF of the residential property in Batavia is owned by investors. A City should want to ATTRACT investors (AKA people with $$$$$), not chase them away (like they just did to Terry Platt)!

When I owned a bar, I was responsible for ALL the drunks. THEY didn't have to be accountable for their own behavior...NOW I have to be responsible for my tenants???

What is next? We are going to be required to put webcams in our rentals to make sure no one is (gasp) smoking a joint or arguing with their spouse/friend/baby-daddy???

What if I am in town and get pissed off and start ranting in the streets? Are my tenants going to get fined for MY behavior?? Where is personal accountability?

Where does this end?

I am not even going to start ranting about how this is yet another TAX (cash grab) designed to chase out all the investors.....

Good luck finding labor to work at the (insert big box store that put a local family out of business here) when all of the landlords get sick and tired of this crap and walk away from their properties. This will leave the City with 50% boarded up houses....garbage....and lots and LOTS of cats!!

~~~~Get a shoe thrown at me from a mean old man....get my dinner from a garbage caaaaaaaaan~~~~~~~~~

Boneheads, plain and simple

Mark Brudz
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I have read all of your arguments, I like Howard, place localism first, the community is the answer, where I part is that we should place the responsibility on the landlord to check criminal records although a voluntary check and subsequent denial would suit me fine, a mandatory one I believe is beyond the scope of government, even local government.

I still believe that the answer rest with the local implementation of justice. not lynch mobs mind you rather local laws punish public drunkenness, public influence of drugs petit larceny and vandalism should require public service as a means of punishment.

Putting someone in an orange vest with a broom sweeping the downtown side walks on a Saturday side by side with others who have committed other so called nuisance crimes I believe does have a deterrent effect. And by deterring those nuisance crimes, you go a long way toward minimizing more serious crimes, many of which but not all are fueled by a long history of nuisance behavior.

I just do not see that going beyond local code toward the landlord is the answer, short of strict enforcement to the letter of the code which already exist

Julie A Pappalardo
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Sorry my post posted more than once....I am on a plane at 35,000 feet right now on their Wi-Fi.....amazing tech, but I guess there was a glitch!

Jim Rosenbeck
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Howard, this is your quote, your question, "How is it that a person with two prior trips to state prison is able to rent an apartment on State Street, only to get arrested again for dealing drugs?, When you ask such a question, I find it reasonable to conclude that you must think that this person should have somehow been prohibited from renting in the city of Batavia. So, I ask again, if you support banning two time felons from renting in the city, would you support similar legislation for the county and the state? Your claim that I am engaging in "off the wall rhetoric" sounds like an attempt to discredit me rather than answer my question. You don't really think the city can or should coerce landlords (through the threat of fines and license revocations) into not renting to former inmates or HUD eligible tenants, do you? Who should landlords discriminate against? Who shouldn't get a second chance? How will landlords be trained to better discern who will be a good tenant and who will be a bad Tenant? Who among us is going to sit in judgement of who deserves to live in the city or as you have put it, who should "live out in the woods somewhere"?
Earlier, you indicated that I failed to answer a question of yours from a few days ago. Of course, I don't think people should steal from one another. I think we agree on that one. Finally, I really don't see any conflict at all between libertarian and localism. Quite frankly this isn't even about being a libertarian. It is about holding one person responsible for another person's behavior. I think most people in this city would agree that the city shouldn't take money from one person in order to punish him/her for another person's behavior. This isn't an issue of being pro community or pro liberty. I firmly believe that most people want minimal government intrusion into their lives while at the same time recognizing that certain laws are a necessary and desirable part of a peaceful community. Nobody is suggesting that local government is unnecessary. So, there is no need for you to argue that" local government is vitally necessary". That was never the issue here Howard. Of course we benefit from city government. We also benefit from keeping local government in check so that it doesn't create regulations, laws and licensing requirements that do little to address perceived problems while growing a government bureaucracy that is becoming increasingly unaffordable for the residents of this city. Every time we grow government, we grow the cost of government and further regulate our lives. This is true whether it is local, state or federal government. If there is a compelling need for a new law, then I am totally on board. In the absence of any compelling evidence of the need for new regulation, I remain opposed. Lets enforce the current laws effectively and keep the city's hands out of the pockets of the landlords. New legislation isn't fixing anything.

Howard B. Owens
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Jim, you're right, I wrote, "How is it that a person with two prior trips to state prison is able to rent an apartment on State Street, only to get arrested again for dealing drugs?"

Where in there do I mention laws, government or the completely unreasonable assumption that I'm calling for some sort of sanctioned prohibition.

I'm surprised you took it that way.

"Who should landlords discriminate against?"

Doing a background check and declining to rent to a person of questionable credit and/or personal responsibility (such has having a criminal record) is not discrimination. It's a sound business practice that only fails to become a sound business practice when a landlord knows that that good government subsidy is coming with a bad tenant.

I'm not a landlord, but if I were, I'd take the same approach with tenants that I take with employees. I wouldn't rent to anybody whom I wouldn't put on my payroll. It's as simple as that. And it's not discrimination to decline to hire somebody whom you believe might steal from you or lie to you or not do their job. It's not discrimination if based on prior history a person might damage property, deal drugs, engage in nefarious activities and generally be disruptive.

"How will landlords be trained to better discern who will be a good tenant and who will be a bad Tenant?"

If you can't do a simple background check, you need something more than training.

"It is about holding one person responsible for another person's behavior."

So who holds landlords accountable for not doing the basic things necessary to ensure they are not renting to people who will bring down property values and prevent neighbors from the quite enjoyment of their property?

Certainly, there are people with little or no prior record of being bad actors, but dealing with those situations is just part of business and life. We're talking here about doing the very simple and basic things that every landlord I've ever rented from has required of me (except for the two who knew me prior to my renting and therefore had all the background information on me they could want just by association).

We've gone round and round and you've yet to even acknowledge that there is a problem -- and there is -- and how it should be addressed.

I've really taken no position on this proposal, merely tried to hold you and others accountable for your objection to the proposal -- fine, object. But what's your answer? It's not enough just to be negative on something -- what's the solution?

barb king
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OMG my eyes hurt.

carl hyde
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The landlord makes the final decision to rent to a person or persons and they become his/ her responsibility. If the landlord running the business of renting space makes a bad decision then it falls on the landlord. If they are fined by the city and don't like it then sell the property and get out of the rental business or hire somebody to properly qualify perspective customers to rent space. It is a business and if you get a license to operate the business then your license could be pulled if you are an unsavory type running your business out of greed. Quit passing the buck and take responsibility for your actions and your decisions.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Howard, I agree that landlords should perform their own due diligence before selecting a tenant to rent to. I suspect that most do some type of tenant background in order to protect their investment. However, can we agree that a landlord making every attempt to be responsible can still inadvertently rent to someone who becomes a community nuisance? Should the city be empowered to revoke landlord licenses or issue fines in these cases? I don't think so. Landlords continue to be handicapped by a couple issues. First, they can't and won't in the future be able to evict problem tenants without due process for the tenant. This means that landlords will can remain saddled with bad tenants for months while incurring penalties from the city. This is wrong. It would be irresponsible of city council to ignore this important reality. Secondly, after reading the responses to this article, it sounds like the biggest issue we face may be the ability of the city police to respond to a complaint and witness the behavior that caused the complaint. I am sympathetic to the fact that our police cannot start arresting people simply because a neighbor lodged a complaint. The police have to observe an illegal behavior. Despite this dilemma, I don't believe it is fair for city council to look for a more responsible person with deeper pockets and penalize him/her for our frustration with bad neighbors. Lets investigate how we might turn up the heat on chronically irresponsible neighbors and cite them every time their behavior becomes an annoyance in the neighborhoods. Tenants who are consistently required to appear in court to respond to complaints will either change their behavior or voluntarily leave the city and live elsewhere.

Howard B. Owens
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Jim, I've said, basically, sometimes good tenants go bad. That's just part of life and part of business.

But many problems could be nipped in the bud by landlords who engage in more stringent rental policies and create and enforce stronger leases (one landlord I spoke with last night shared his belief that one of the things he sees other landlords doing is just using boiler plate leases that aren't as strong as they could be).

The free market is supposed to be about enlightened self interest, but when you have landlords who don't do the basic things they could do to avoid renting to those who are easily identifiable bad tenants, there's a breakdown in the process some where. How does that get fixed without making the cost of doing business higher on the landlords who are diligent about trying to protect their investments?

As for getting tenants to appear in court frequently enough to where maybe they'll leave town ... I could probably make a list of at least a half dozen names that kind of show that approach isn't terribly effective.

Kyle Couchman
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Howard, making leases is a complex issue. Take for example a simple portion. Lets say a Landlord puts in a lease that nails are not allowed to hang things on the wall. Seems like a reasonable rule in a lease yes? Now I am gonna speak from experience in here from one of the cases I had as a property manager in Ithaca. Our tenant took us to court because of our deductions from their deposit. The Judge granted the tenant the money back we charged to repair the nailholes in the wall. Citing that it was reasonable wear and tear and that we couldnt charge for it even though it was in the lease.

Landlords aren't as enabled as people around here think they are. There are state and federal rules laws and structure that limit the landlord tenant relationship. Police arent co-operative either. I know of 2 incidents in this city where a tenant had a relative staying with them helping out with rent, but started partying and dealing fromt he residence. But because he contributed to rent or recieved a bill at residence even because of a domestic incident he couldnt be removed. Even with the Landlord and tenant asking for intervention.

Its an oversimplified solution to a complex problem. I forsee the city wanting to charge for licenses, as well as collecting fines. Something to think on is what could be a result of this type of thing, we could end up with a city that looks like Detroit or other large cities where landlords just up and left, taking the hit for property abandonment and end up with many buildings empty, boarded up and attracting squatters and vermin, then giving us a whole other major problem.

Ed Hartgrove
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Implement weekly leases. "I'll inspect property every Sunday, and if things are messed up, YOU'RE OUT!"
Don't want a 'weekly' lease? Move on down the road.

Tina Winters
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I usually do not comment on any of the subjects here, but I wanted to give a tenants point of view. First let me say i do not get any type of assistance, I am a professional in my field of work. I have rented on the southside for many years now, I have some elderly neighbors whom I adore and stick around for, then I have some not so savory neighbors that live off the system and do everything illegal, mind you those neighbors are now the reason I am finally looking at leaving this area. Even though I have a very nice landlord, he is too nice, and gives people that should be out of chances a chance. It is sad that many of these landlords rent to tenants who live off the system, which never ceases to amaze me, because just by thier actions and vulgar behavior, you can see they are not worthy people. And I do not have a problem with people who are getting help because they need it, but I do have a problem with the many I encounter, that get it because they want to hang and party all day, not work. So I understand why they want to implement this license. But on the other hand, I do not think a landlord should be held totally accountable. We should impose a fine to the tenants as well as the landlord, why not some type of work in the city as a fine for the tenants, they sure have time to hang on thier porches all day long smoking and drinking, maybe a little hard work might show them that is what life is all about? We have to stop giving so many people a free ride, stop letting tenants have several animals that they do not take care of, stop letting them sublease to thier friends, which usually turns out for the worse. Its sad how you can drive down a street around here now, there will be a group of people hanging in the road, and wont move for your vehicle to go thru...those are the tenants that should have to be held accountable for thier nasty rude behaviors. The southside has so many decent people left, but they are slowly leaving because of the conditions that arise due to all these people that show no respect for anyone but themselves. They should grow up and be respectable neighbors and community members, which wont happen unless they are forced to change or leave...

Frank Bartholomew
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I tend to favor Howards comments, we need a proactive approach to
these problems.
Background checks can be flawed when researching prior living arrangements. A person can provide fake names, or those of friends
and relatives to put in a good word and swear the person was a great tenant.

The only solution I see is to make it easier to evict tenants who create the problems. If you want more police, it will cost the taxpayers.
If a tenant has x number of police contact, or arrests for public nuisance,
ban them from living in the city for a period of time, or put their asses in jail when they are charged with crimes.
Set up a committee to review tenant behavior, if it is determined that a tenant is a problem, put them on notice, let them know their behavior won't be tolerated in this city.

If we don't give the landlords some teeth, we can't " fairly" hold them responsible for the actions of tenants.
I fail to believe that this city and its residents can't find an effective way
to address this problem.
Is it possible to raise the rent so high that the trouble makers can no longer afford to live there?
Maybe create a risk pool, if you're a tenant with a record of causing problems requiring police contact, you are in the risk pool. Once in the risk pool, if the tenant causes any problems within a year of being placed
in the risk pool, out they go, not in three months, immediately, and I'm
talking out of the city, not just the dwelling.

Frank Bartholomew
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Looks like a troublesome tenant read my post.
Just trying to find answers instead of bitching about the problem !!!

Dave Olsen
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I gave you the thumbs down Frank. I am not a "troublesome tenant". I just don't happen to support bans on people living somewhere.

Kyle Couchman
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Yeah Frank you really cant prevent someone from living somewhere in that way.

Frank Bartholomew
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Yeah guys, if nothing changes, then nothing changes, I guess status quo is the easy out.

Dave Olsen
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Hahaha OK Frank you just described both Kyle and me to a tee. Couple of status quo guys who never do anything to try and change stuff.

If this is a problem and according to some of the comments above it is, then yes, something should be done. I don't know what it is, I'm not that smart, but I DO know telling people they are undesirables and can't live in any town any more is not the way to go, pretty sure there's laws against that anyway. Neither is hammering landlords or creating yet another useless bureaucracy which will only discourage investment and give someone else the opportunity to pick winners and losers. People, both tenant and landlord are responsible for their own actions, but not someone elses. Seriously, you think it's OK to tell someone they can't live in any town, city or village?

Kyle Couchman
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Theres always changes that can be made to some properties. Besides this is 2013 video surveillance of the "public" areas of a landlord's properties can be easily set up and written into a lease. Then nefarious activities and nusiance bs would have the "proof" required for police to more proactively persue. But nahhhhhh thats to simple for one and for the other puts too much responsibility on the person acting out or whatever. It'll never work cause it makes too much sense

Frank Bartholomew
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Dave, I wasn't singling you or Kyle out, just the prevailing attitude.

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