Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on neighborhood crime by targeting landlords who allow persistently troublesome tenants stay at their properties. This plan has a lot of points for it, and a lot of points against it, but the coalitions of landlords across the state are just complaining as usual about the harsh treatment of their constituencies irrespective of the plan’s merits. I suppose that is their role:
Paul Palmieri, president of the Long Island-based Coalition of Landlords, Homeowners and Merchants, said government should focus on helping landlords keep properties safe, not taking punitive action against them.
“We believe in responsible ownership,” he said, adding that “we don’t believe the government is always true in their motives. We believe they are trying to shut down landlords because they don’t like the people landlords are renting to.”
The curious difficultly here is that, of course, New York has spent decades and even centuries fighting against discriminatory landlords who refused people homes based on arbitrary and prejudiced opinions. Hence, evicting a tenant is an exceedingly difficult, expensive and time-consuming process in which the tenant arguably has more rights than the landlord. Now, the same state that makes the laws that make it difficult to evict are making it equally difficult to deal with troublesome tenants.
I’m not defending slum-lords, and I do understand that this new policy is designed to target “landlords who allow persistent illegal activity at their properties.” But housing policy in this state needs a serious overhaul, not just another papering over with yet another set of contradictory laws. In fact, what is most surprising about this new policy is that I’d always understood that landlords were responsible for criminal activity on their property. Perhaps that’s just a Rochester law?
I think all of us who rent are sensitive to “that house” where all the trouble constantly happens in the neighborhood. Invariably, the landlord in question is AWOL, allowing not just trouble tenants but leaky faucets and broken windows to persist. It’s a good idea to pressure these people. However, it’s not in anyone’s interest to make owning property in high-crime neighborhoods prohibitive. That will only exacerbate the issue.