MASSENA - Massena Mayor James F. Hidy says he wants to use a proposed public nuisance law to give landlords more ammunition in getting rid of blight and nuisance tenants, and some local landlords say they welcome the help.
I totally agree with what youre trying to do as far as cleanup, Dennis Kemison told members of the villages board of trustees Tuesday.
Mr. Kemison, who said he has met with Mr. Hidy regarding drug issues, said landlords currently face hurdles in evicting problem tenants, and he hopes the proposed law will give them more authority in dealing with those individuals.
As a landlord we have to follow the law set forth, including giving tenants 30 days notice before evicting them. And, he said, if the 30-day notice is not properly served, they could be dealing with the tenant for another 60 or 90 days.
I think myself personally we ought to just throw them out, Mr. Kemison said.
Tom Post suggested landlords should have more authority in getting rid of nuisance tenants if they misrepresent themselves by signing a lease and never occupying the property, instead allowing others to move into the property.
You folks have never been in our shoes. We have a 40-page attorney generals renters rights we have to go by. Ive been through the court system, Charles Raiti told board members, noting he gave up because it was costing him too much time and money to try and evict a tenant.
He noted that it costs landlord $150 to $200 to hire an attorney to deal with an eviction, while many times the tenant theyre trying to get out of their property will receive a free attorney through the county. Mr. Raiti said it was sometimes difficult to determine who would be a problem once they moved into one of his rental units. Mr. Raiti said he had one person who gave him two months rent and the security deposit and turned out to be a drug dealer. Then I started noticing a problem, he said.
In that case, he said, I went in there and pushed the guy out.
In this particular situation I could have gone to jail for violating the tenants rights, Mr. Raiti said. There has to be something for landlords in there, too. Mr. Hidy, who had presented the board earlier this month with information on a local law used by the city of Rome, said it was time to put some teeth into enforcement. If a public nuisance like the sale of illegal drugs or firearms, gang activity or assaults occur at a property more than once, the village could issue a court summons under the law for civil action.
He said he had provided Police Chief Timmy J. Currier and the local justices with copies for their review and comments.
Judge (James) Crandall said go with it. He supports it 101 percent, Mr. Hidy said.
If the buildings tenants or owner are found responsible for the continuing problems at the property, they could be fined. If the problems continue, the village could then issue a permanent injunction and control the building until the problems stop or are solved. Mr. Currier said the law would be used as a last-case scenario in dealing with an issue.
Speaking to the landlords who attended Tuesdays meeting, Mr. Hidy told them, Were not after guys like you that comes to these meetings, but rather others such as absentee landlords who dont live in the area.
He said everyone needed to be cognizant that individuals were coming to Massena from the city and renting under false pretenses. They dont move in, but this element moves in.
That, in many cases, meant more drugs in the community.
We want to get drugs out of this community, Mr. Hidy said.
He said that Mr. Currier and his officers were doing their jobs in arresting individuals.
Hes bringing them in. Hes doing his job, the mayor said.
He suggested the problem was with District Attorney Nicole Duve for not taking action on the cases brought to her.
We went to battle with the DA. We felt she wasnt doing her job. I think shes our worst enemy, Mr. Hidy said.
As a result, he said, We drew a line in the sand to come up with ways to eradicate the problem.
He said landlords needed to be part of the solution.
You have to be more aware of who youre renting to. The bottom line is we dont want the doggoned drugs in this community. Youve got a part in this, too, Mr. Hidy said.