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Could Crackdown On Landlords Backfire?

landlord helpWould city officials make better landlords? That’s a question that the City of Syracuse may be forced to answer.

Two years ago, a prosecutor there jailed a couple after they failed to make ordered improvements on a single family home that remained vacant. They were given three months to come up with the money, which they claimed they could not raise at that time–back when the housing market took a tumble.

Now, another city attorney has taken the reins, and vowed to make unsightly rental properties a top priority. According to a report in CNYCentral.com, this month she told the city’s council members that from January of April of this year, her office has “processed” more than 16,000 old and new cases regarding “absentee” landlords, a designation which includes those who title property in corporate names.

In Syracuse, landlords are required to appear in court personally for housing code violations, and arrest warrants are available against  those who do not comply with court appearances or ordered improvements.

But this enthusiastic advocate is not stopping there.  She also said she is considering taking over the properties and collecting rents from the tenants directly.

How those rents would be used is unclear, and so is the question of whether the monies would be applied to improving the properties.

But some community members are questioning whether the strategy of blaming a landlord for the poor condition of a property is entirely fair — or effective, in improving either the appearance or relative safety of the neighborhood.

One person asked “Are you out of your mind?” after reading about the plan, referring to local politicians taking over funds from tenants.

A local landlord blames tenants for the poor condition of her property. She claims she has tried three times to evict a tenant who she swears is gaming the pro-tenant system by damaging the property, calling building inspectors to report the damaged unit, and then avoiding paying rent until the landlord makes the ordered repairs. At the thought that the city could do a better job, she says, “Don’t be too quick to judge and blame.”

According to the news report, two neighborhood groups have also raised concerns.  They say “show me the money” when it comes to results.  Going after landlords at this rate is one thing, but they question whether the overall result will be more boarded-up buildings that neither the city nor the landlord can afford to tear down, making some neighborhoods into slums.

Over the past several years, the population in Syracuse has been on the decline. Officials expected another 10% drop in the recent census, but were pleasantly surprised that the decline slowed to just 1.5%, driven by more high tech jobs and a surge of immigration in the area.

And that may mean a greater demand for rental properties in Syracuse.

See 10 Inexpensive Ways to Spruce Up Your Rental or Rehab Property.

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  • Gary Carlson

    These government “officials” are truly getting out of hand. On one hand, the bleeding hearts make it difficult to evict tenants who damage property. At the same time, they want to punish the landlord for the damage. Wonderful!

  • Leon K

    Does anybody ask cities:
    What if it is REALLY TENANTS FAULT?
    I had my own experiences with BAD TENANTS and the city, court can’t do nothing about it!
    IT IS TIME FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PUT PRESSURE ON TENANTS TOO, AND NOT JUST COME UP WITH NEW LAWS AGAINST LANDLORDS!

  • Anthony

    What this “attorney” is doing sounds very illegal. It definitely sounds like an abuse of power to try and step in and collect rent. This is far from how a democracy works. This would definitely not happen in my city and state because we keep our elected officials in check through active participation…these landlords should make some noise!

  • Donald Allen

    I would like to make some noise,but if you do they will get you one way or another,like inspection on your rental propertys I am in garden city MI and bandit are in control

  • This happens in Canada too. A friend of mine and fellow property owner faced that situation where the tenant kept willfully damaging the property and complaining to the tenant board about unsafe living conditions. She complained it was affecting her health and yet wouldn’t move out.

    She has since left but still has an outstanding case saying the place caused all her health problems (even though “she says” she told him before she moved in she had health problems).

    She keeps asking for continuances and keeps wasting everyone’s time with lies and issues that have nothing to do with the case.

  • B

    Could Crackdown On Landlords Backfire? – YES

    Would city officials make better landlords? – That’s a joke. Here in Los Angeles, one of the biggest slumlords is the City. They lack the skill sets, the nimbleness (imagine putting out to bid through the city process for roof repairs when the roof is leaking in the rains), the direct money flow and the benefit of working without union scale wage. Landlords can work like Spec Ops, Cities are more like Armies – using a military analogy.

    Los Angeles has a program called REAP. You can look it up as Rent Escrow Account Program under LAHD (Los Angeles Housing Department). They lower the rents, usually by 50% and take over the rents. They pay the mortgage and utility and insurance bills, then everything else falls behind that. If they do the repairs, it is 2-3x what you might pay and you have to also pay admin fees. I knew a group that was attacked by LAHD. They had about 20 sites. They had to sell 6 to save 7 and lost the other 7 to the City.

    Here, the City housing guys = legalized government mobsters. And landlords – the devil. But hey, were a blue city in a blue state.

    But some community members are questioning whether the strategy of blaming a landlord for the poor condition of a property is entirely fair — or effective, in improving either the appearance or relative safety of the neighborhood. – here it has proven not to be. But that is my slanted take on it.

    A local landlord blames tenants for the poor condition of her property. – Very true. They are like Godzilla a lot of them. And then you can’t even evict them. They call the government upon the owner for their own destruction. It is craziness.

    She claims she has tried three times to evict a tenant who she swears is gaming the pro-tenant system by damaging the property, calling building inspectors to report the damaged unit, and then avoiding paying rent until the landlord makes the ordered repairs. – We see this every single day. We handle more than 2500 residents and while many think it is myth, like a Yeti or Lochness Monster, it’s there every day. Own and run a building for 3 months and you get a HUGE appreciation for the challenges.

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