City criminalizes landlords. Post 211

Schenectady Gazette NY

City cracks down on landlords who miss inspections

The crackdown on apartment inspections has begun.

Using public documents, city building inspectors have made a list of properties likely to be rented out. Starting with the Union Street area, they sent out 120 letters this week to the owners of those properties. In each letter, they told the owner to register as a landlord and have their apartments inspected within 30 days.

Landlords were taken aback, even though city officials have warned for six months they would crack down on landlords who flout the apartment inspection law.

They [the City] quickly found 120 landlords that weren’t following the city’s laws, said Bailor, who is running the crackdown. “There’s buildings we haven’t been in since way before the [inspection ] program started,” he said. “Safety is the major concern.” He wants to check each building’s electrical system, water and sewer pipes, structural integrity and smoke alarms. “So that whole area will be up to code. There won’t be any major [electrical] fires or water breaks,” he said. “Believe me, we’ve seen it all.”

In recent years, an apartment building’s walls collapsed suddenly from a longstanding structural failure and another building was rented despite exterior walls with large holes. In several cases, apartment buildings have burned down because of unsafe wiring. And every winter, some tenants report their furnaces aren’t working — a serious safety issue.

“If we can all work together and get this thing in compliance — it’s based on the safety of the tenants,” he said.

See the entire article: City cracks down on landlords


Coach Mitch’s REFLECTIONS™

Government at its worst

Government regulation is the worst way to handle any issue. President Reagan put it best, “Government is not the answer, government is the problem.”

It may seem convenient to have government oversight, but the negatives of intrusive government far outweigh its benefits. Prior to the Progressive Era, Presidents regularly vetoed bills for “internal improvements.”  The overriding fear was that corruption would infect government.  That fear of corruption which is endemic with any government program was thought to be more important than any gain from the improvement. In other words … modernizing Lord Antons’ famous words –

Government Corrupts and Absolute Government Corrupts Absolutely

Without regulation, people are then required to defend their own interests. This is as it should be and we have the civil systems in place to do so.

If someone is hurt in a rented space caused by the legitimate negligence of the owner, then that owner should be held liable and punished, and rightly so. The situation can be dealt with civilly or criminally and it can be done swiftly – within the current judicial system. Tort law, i.e. dealing with a civil wrong which unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss, is the easiest, cleanest, most honest and least costly way to handle any legal situation.

Dispute Resolution works

At no cost and within ten days, the Alternative Dispute Resolution system resolves disputes within The NYS Unified Court System. Anyone reading this can be trained as a voluntary mediator. Any landlord/tenant issue can be further handled in Small Claims Court, for a $3 application fee.

Tenants, winning their issue, have the full force of the court backing them up. Tenants can also claim damages to their goods and judges can invoke penalties. Insurance companies can withhold coverage from buildings that they deem not safe. In Schenectady, there is a significant over-abundance of apartments allowing tenants much choice and shunning landlords who are not professional.

An alternative

If a governmental housing inspection system was not in existence, the free market would create an alternative. I expect that there would be a plethora of Apartment Inspectors who could be hired at moderate cost by a prospective tenant to look over an apartment prior to it being rented – in exactly the same way that a house inspector tells prospective home buyers of impending issues.

We do not need a fully manned regulatory arm of government, creating subjective mayhem at every property it inspects. One reason that regulation does not work is that each inspector has his own standard. Additionally, some inspectors are vindictive, but they all overstep their authority when claiming a safety issue. Safety is a highly subjective and non-scientific standard.

When it is pointed out that they have exceeded their authority or if challenged, inspectors are known to not react well. The inspectors word is accepted by a judge and they know it. One inspector told me he, “saw a few drops” of water, and told me to “put on a new roof.” That example should show the arbitrary nature of inspectors.

Building Code decisions are contingent solely upon an inspector’s discretion and are often capricious and unreasonable. An inspector ordered me to do a totally unnecessary $12000 fix because he wanted to upgrade the town’s infrastructure; but he wanted me to pay for it versus the town. Luckily my research found a criteria that the inspector neglected to observe. These are examples of what always happens when government regulates. The hurt is much worse than the help. Ask most landlords, it is well documented that government is not trustworthy.

Silliness (government) at work

At a recent town council meeting, the Building Inspector said the most numerous infraction by far was that a smoke detector did not have batteries. Typically, tenants take out the batteries so they won’t be bothered by the loud alarm after having burnt something on the stove. We have an expensive housing inspection system in place, violating property rights, giving costly tickets to landlords, because tenants dismantle the safety equipment installed for their own protection.  Smoke detectors are required to be installed, maintained and inspected by landlords and when the smoke detector doesn’t work properly, the laws punish the landlord for the misbehavior of tenants. That these capricious regulations continue illustrates how silly and unfair the system has become.

Improper law criminalizes landlords

Drug laws are the same. I attended a Kiwanis luncheon where the town police stated clearly that a rental property would be forfeit, that is, the deed would be forcibly taken by the town, if a tenant were found to be having illegal drugs in the apartment. The position of the law was that landlords were responsible for the behavior of the tenant. Yet, no landlord is able to discriminate in ways that he believes will defend his property. For example, a landlord cannot make an unannounced visit to his own apartment, a landlord cannot forcibly examine the belongings of a tenant for drugs, etc. The policeman expressed understanding the potential unfairness of the situation but said, “We will enforce the law and take your property if your tenant uses drugs.”

Those advocating tenant’s rights have no conception of the long-term wrong they are doing to society. Advocates are captivated by the near-term difficulty of a client, seek to “fix” a problem and think it just fine for a perceived deep pocket, the landlord, to pay the cost so the advocates feelings of justice can be satiated.

Help yourself

Make sure that you purchase a property well below the fair market value so that you can sell quickly if your town goes crazy over inspections or for any other reason. The best way to consistently find properties well below fair market value is with Coach Mitch’s “Ridiculously Simple System…”&#8284

Mitchell Goldstein - Coach Mitch
518-439-6100 until midnight EST

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