3/19/2010

Tougher ‘nuisance’ law

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported:

The Common Council will soon have a look at a proposed “public nuisance abatement law” that would demand landowners keep a sharper eye on happenings on their property.
Second Ward Alderman Jack Smith is pushing for Council exploration of a law directing the police chief to assign “points” to properties where certain offenses have been committed and, when enough points are accumulated, order properties shut down for a term.
Public nuisance abatement laws are in effect now in cities including Albany, Troy and York, Pa. They target properties involved with drug use/dealing, gambling, prostitution, underage drinking, firearms, child abuse, possession of stolen property and various forms of fraud.
The law says these types of illegal activities are a bane on the community and, thus, public nuisances.
And the way it works, a houseguest or tenant doesn’t have to be convicted of a crime for points to be lodged against property....
It sounds like an interesting approach though its success will be in the details. I'm not certain creating a vacant structure for a year though is the proper penalty. Some other monetary fine would seem to be more applicable, especially is the revenue from the system was directly fed back into the area where the fine originated. Be it trees, new sidewalks, etc. People resond best to violations like this, parking, etc when they see it as a another step in the viability of the area and not just a money grab by the locality.

There are both good landloards and good tenants who get the short end of their "bad" counterparts living around them. Good tenants don't want to stick around once they can afford to move and even good landlords come to the tough spot of not having a great pool of tenants looking to come to the area to chose from. Maybe this can be another step in reversing that trend. A period of stabilty is needed to turn around the disinvestment.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Too many homeowners have to be subjected to "nuisance" situations created by tenants or even friends of tenants in our neighborhoods. This has brought down our quality of life not to mention our housing values. It has to end.

Jack, I really feel this is a positive step toward trying to bring back our city from it's downward spiral. We really need to concentrate on the housing stock; thus far I have yet to see our Building Inspection department make a significant difference.

Although I might agree with collecting fines as revenue, I personally feel that having a "nuisance" house out of commission for up to a year would not only force Landlords to do their homework and be more selective, but it would finally bring some tranquility to the neighbors that were forced to live with all the problems.

Please keep us posted of when there will be a public hearing so that we may come out in support.

MJ said...

I may be wrong, but a vacant house needs to be boarded after a certain amount of time. And vacant houses attract broken windows, salvagers, etc.

Some of these houses go for 8k at auction. I don't think a year lost would be that hard on some of the landloards. Much less having them walking away and leaving the city with it to take care of or demo. Those are my first concerns.

I'd rather see them pay a fine and then get some god people in the place.

Anonymous said...

I think fining the Landlord is good, however I think then they should also be forced to evict the problem tenants.

My concern lies with who determines the fines, how they're collected, and what happens if a landlord insists that they cannot afford to pay. I'm worried that left to the courts, we may be subject to the opinion of a judge...

wrightontime said...

I hope the City can find a way to address this nuisence situation. I hope this can pan out , but I suspect some attorney will find a loophole or political favors become the norm. Speaking of Building Inspection, you dont see those guys front and center in the local media spotlite. Back to normal and the reason we got in this situation over the past 25 years. Jack, I hope you can look into this type of problem, it would be greatly appreciated.

Sick and Tired said...

That's why we need to show our support! Make sure to go to the Council Meeting when it goes for a hearing. Call your Aldermen and make them know how you feel, sign a petition, whatever it takes. Landlords against this will be there complaining, meanwhile our city is going down the tubes - While they're conducting business, our home values are depreciating not to mention our stress levels are going up!

Rocketboy said...

Unfortunately, the laws regarding landlord and tenant behaviors always seem to side with the person doing bad behavior. Troublesome tenant? Good luck getting the law on your side to evict. Slumlord owns the building? Good luck forcing them to correct things. The only way that this law will do any good is if a landlord can legally kick someone out of an apartment with only a short notice.

Without this provision, you are doing nothing but blaming the land owner for the resident's behavior.

Keeping buildings empty will just make things worse for everyone.

MJ said...

Housing Visions mentioned a history of quick evictions of problem tenants who do not follow the rental agreement. So there is some precedence on getting it done quickly.

It may need to be something in the contract. Maybe something that would explicitly reference this law.

It can be done. The city needs to lay out how to make sure it is obtainable and share it with landlords. Maybe even require it to be part of rental agreements as part of the law?

Anonymous said...

It is my experience that the landlords who seem to complain the most about not being able to find good tenants, never request a credit report, a criminal background check, or do any extensive research on prior landlords. These are all legal ways to find good tenants. They do however, enjoy getting their checks sent directly to their homes without the hassle of trying to collect.

I know because I volunteered to do the screening to help out Landlords who complained and was refused. Most of the time it's just an excuse to get away with business as usual.

Rocketboy said...

And there are always legal ways to claim discrimination...

If the city would stand behind landlords that are doing the right things AS MUCH as they were trying to kick the bad ones to the curb, I would be all for this. But as it stands, you might as well be blaming me because the neighbor's cat decided to use my front lawn as a litterbox.

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