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Landlords to Pay for Police Protection

landlord helpBoston’s Mayor Thomas Menino has been dogged by allegations he’s too soft on crime.

Last Tuesday he sent out notice of a press conference announcing a new crime task force. The venue: the street in front of a rental property.

There, Menino announced his new wave of crime fighting–focused on landlords.

The Problem Properties Task Force commissioned by the Mayor is comprised of representatives from the police and fire departments, building inspectors, neighborhood liiasons, public health, the housing authority, transportation, and an attorney.

Mayor Menino declared the apartment he stood in front of a “longstanding problem property and known site of drug use and prostitution” and identified it as the first target of his Problem Properties Task Force.

According to the Mayor, the property has received at least 14 complaints of criminal activity since May, 2010 including “five assault and batteries with a weapon, five assault and batteries, nine verbal disputes and various other charges including intimidating a witness, drug activity, weapons violations and a violation of a restraining order.”  In total, there were over 105 calls-for-service in the same time period and an investigation has provided significant evidence of prostitution, drug trafficking and loitering as well as several regulatory and code violations, according to a statement released by the Mayor’s office.

During the press event, the police were staged to remove illegal materials from the house, tow and impound a vehicle that has been directly associated with the criminal activity taking place at the location, place a large light-up sign displaying the Mayors 24-Hour Hotline number in front of the house, and increase the police patrol of the area surrounding the house.

The landlord will have to pay for the extra police detail, and is required to meet with Boston police and city officials to outline his plan for addressing crimes in the neighborhood while ensuring the safety of his tenants. He will be charged for the expense of having an on-duty officer monitoring the property until the City is satisfied with his response.

According to city records, the landlord owns 16 other properties in the area.

The Problem Properties Task Force was established as part of a city ordinance that will officially provide the City with the ability to charge “negligent or inattentive owners” with the necessary monetary costs of securing their problem properties. The City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance Wednesday, July 13.

Once approved by the City Council, the ordinance will provide the City the ability to place an around-the-clock police detail in front of problem properties until specified issues have been alleviated. The ordinance will also hold the property owners 100% accountable for all expenses associated with police details, light-up signs and any other actions taken. Owners will be required to meet with respective district captains to produce plans-of-action to relieve public safety issues.

An Executive Order by Mayor Menino to establish the Task Force identifies a problem property as any location to which the Boston Police Department has been called four times or more within the preceding 12 month period for criminal offenses.

This concentrated effort will be mirrored in the investigation of seven other problem properties by the Problem Properties Task Force.

Menino’s decision to place a patrol outside the building has been criticized by many, including a city council member, after random shootings and stabbings left several people dead on the 4th of July. Concerns over the task force include fear that the plan takes needed patrols away from other crime centers, casts a false sense of security about solving gang violence, and that police, not landlords are the best-equipped to tackle crackheads and killers.

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  • Ron in Colorao

    Well, Well, Well. The city of Boston can’t control the crime in their city, so lets just dump it into the lap of the landlord. Am I surprised? I’m sitting here NOT having a heart attach, I’m NOT so surprised!!

    Maybe if the city of Boston would man up and do their jobs (like they are getting paid to do) and get control of the crime problem, the landlord could find better quality people to rent to.

    To quote Charlie Sheen verbatim who on said, “DUH” !!!!!!

  • If passed, this could be a huge problem. We managed government subsidized housing with income based rents. Each of our complexes has 24 apts – this ordinance would mean that if more than 4 in 24 apts had a police report a year, we’d be liable for the extra patrols, etc. Our budgets are thin enough!! We try our best to screen tenants, but there are some you can’t exclude because fair housing laws don’t take “gut feelings” as reason to deny an application. Criminals need to be dealt with by professionals – the police. We rely on them to back us up during evictions, threats of violence by irate tenants, evidence to evict drug users/sellers, etc. There is only so much we can do. The laws in Kansas are written so that even with a confession or conviction for a criminal offense, we still have to give a 30 day notice to terminate a lease. Many times during those 30 days the outgoing tenants decides to throw the wildest parties, damage property, etc since there is nothing else we can do to get rid of them sooner. These are most of the times when we need police & call them to take people away, not the time to incur extra expenses for them to do their jobs while we follow the legal process.

  • Vince McEnery

    This is just another way to blame and to shake down hard-working (and usually white), people for crimes committed by poor and minorities.

  • This might be a good thing to do, if we are talking ONLY about slum landlords who ignore the law and resident complaints.

    The average landlord may deal with tenants that break the law and cause police to respond, but only until they get evicted.

    I would write the ordinance that police can only be placed on the premises if the landlord CANNOT prove that he/she is evicting tenants that are causing the problems.

    This would protect law abiding landlords, while also addressing known slum lords who do not give a whit about community, the law, or anything else. Usually, these slum landlords also do not repair their buildings, so code enforcement eventually gets involved…

  • Bill

    Sad situation…… An ongoing crime-ridden building should result in the Landlord taking some action to clean it up, along with police action to prosecute the criminals. Surely, the landlord cannot be the policeman, but it is also obvious that the landlord can be expected to do more than stand by and rent to any low-life who comes along. Lets not pretend that the Landlord is always innocent when it comes to a building which is a chronic crime magnet.

  • gary

    Let’s assume that it’s the landlord’s job to take over police work. What can he/she do? Ever tried to evict a tenant? Don’t forget all those eviction laws that protect the tenants from any inconvenience they might be subject to – how long and at what expense must the landlord be subjected to?

    So where does the poor piece of tenant trash land next once he/she is finally evicted? Down the street? In a homeless shelter? Live on the street? These people are society’s flotsam and jetsam. Instead of subjecting landlords to fines because of our efforts to put up with them, perhaps we should be receiving governmental support for providing a safety net for them. Once out of our lap, they will be seeking shelter somewhere else. Does the public want to pay for them? Make the eviction process easier for us and we’ll be happy to send ’em your way.

  • Archie Stulc, Jr.

    OK….

    First, this Mayoral Press Occasion happened to this landlord, in front of his/her property BEFORE the ordinance bacame law! Can anyone say “jumping the gun”?

    Second, what is the evidence that the landlord isn’t trying to control the property? Maybe he/she was one, or more, of the 105 calls for service to the police.

    I don’t know about Boston, but throughout the state of Minnesota, to evict a problem tennant, we must first give a written 30 day notice, and if that is to no avail, file with the backed up courts to have the Sherrif evict the tennant. This process can take up to 3 months and over $750. And once the notice is given, it is free range on the tennant’s homefront as to what is going to happen to the property.

    I have been a renter as well as a property manager and owner, and I say, for now, that pendulum needs to swing back a bit towards owner’s rights.

    I had a tennant move live chickens into the basement. When told that he needed to get rid of them right away, he beat them to death. He later, in the middle of the heating season, “removed” 70 feet of copper pipe from the boiler sytstem. At this same time, he refused to allow us entry to inspect and make repairs. We did go through the police, who only told the tennat that he had to allow us access. Everything else was up to us to evict him, along with the accompanying expenses. Of course we could still sue him in small claims court, if we could find him, and then pay for the court to garnish his wages, if he had any. All at our own expense.

    What needs to be done is to find a way for truely disruptive and dangerous tennants to be able to be removed immediately, preferably with an expidited court hearing. Otherwise the landlords of problem buildings will need to almost break the llaw themselves, camp out on the lawn of their properties, and take a roll call of who is entering and leaving their properties, as well as to whom these people are visiting if they are not already on a lease in said building.

  • Danielle

    Hello

    I’m a student reporter at the Harvard Summer School and I’m doing a story on Mayor Menino’s new task force targeting “problem properties” in Boston.

    I’m looking for a local landlord’s perspective on this. Are there any property owners in the Boston area who would talk to me about the topic? My deadline is Wednesday night (July 27th). I can be contacted at [email protected].

    Thank you and I hope to hear from you.

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