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Landlord Could Face Jail Time

“A 4 p.m. deadline is looming for a Northwest Washington landlord to reestablish power at his apartment building that hasn’t had it for weeks. If the landlord, Abraham Joseph, doesn’t do it, a judge says he’ll be taken to jail. Residents of a Northwest Washington apartment building have been without power for weeks. Because of that, residents of the small First Street Northwest building have had no lights, air conditioning or refrigeration for their food. “We’re still right here with no air, no anything, and it’s hot,” tenant Tammy Embrey said. Despite a court order, Embrey and other residents still are in the dark and sweating out the heat and have been since the power went out June 28. Joseph said Wednesday that he’d have power restored within 24 hours.

ABC7 asked Joseph why the problem has persisted so long. He blames the tenants.

“They blew the fuse,” Joseph said. “The fuse was blown. That’s pretty easy to replace.”

Joseph said he called in an electrician to fix the problem. But when ABC7 tried to ask the man identified as an electrician about the repairs, he took off. Asked why the electrician was so desperate to elude us, Joseph said, “Why didn’t you stop him? Why didn’t you stop him?” The problem is more extensive than a blown fuse. The wiring is so bad, Pepco won’t restore power. “They told me to have the work done by tomorrow, and it’s going to be done by tomorrow,” Joseph said. The tenants are holding on to their court order and are confident if they are still in the dark tomorrow, the landlord will find out what it is like to suffer.”

 

Originally posted by ABC 7 News – WJLA and can be viewed at http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/07/judge-to-d-c-landlord-restore-residents-power-or-go-to-jail-91263.html#ixzz2Z8jcDKRt

 

POSSIBLE LEGAL ACTION FOR LANDLORD ACCUSED OF NEGLECTING PROPERTY

POPLAR GROVE – More former tenants of a Harvard-based landlord accused of neglect of several properties have come forward accusing the landlord, William Perez, of similar issues.  The tenants from his most recent condemned property spoke with us and showed us pictures of the raw sewage they were exposed to.

“We lived in raw sewage for days and he said it was okay,” said Tyrone White.

White, his girlfriend plus her two kids rented theState Streetproperty William Perez owned in Poplar Grove.  White says problems started for his family after neighbors had work done on their septic system.  It caused raw sewage to seep into his home’s two bathrooms, preventing his family from keeping hygiene without the aid of bottled water and paper towels.  But when White says he called Perez, he says he was nowhere to be found.

“The first three days we were trying to get in touch with the landlord, you know?  What do we do?” said White.

Perez finally sent someone to fix the problems.  White claims the worker who came out to rectify the issue had commented to him that he had been at the property before and said the pipes to the house were broken.  According to White, Perez had instructed the handyman to just snake the pipes, which White says just made matters worse.

“Whatever they did to the pipes, it seemed like the smell wasn’t even that bad at first,” said White.  “But it’s like they opened up a whole new avenue with this and it got real bad.”

Continued…

Since the health department condemned the property last week, White and his family are now homeless.  He says both he and his girlfriend are unemployed.  They were put up in a hotel for a week thanks to several charity organizations, but now they must stay with friends until they can find work and another place to live.

WTVO/WQRF has had repeated contact with William Perez, but he has repeatedly declined the opportunity to do an interview.  Michelle Courier,BooneCountyState’s Attorney, says she’s aware of the issue and is now reviewing the file to decide whether to pursue legal action against Perez.

We just found out today that Perez doctored a letter from the county’s health department to give to the family from yesterday’s story involving the same property but different tenants.  Those tenants, theDowns, say they’re in contact with a lawyer regarding their eviction under false pretense.

 

To read the full story, please visit http://mystateline.com/fulltext-news?nxd_id=367532

LANDLORDS CONSIDERING COURT ACTION AGAINST HARRISBURG’S “DISRUPTIVE PROPERTIES” BILL

A recently passed law cracking down on disruptive rental properties in Harrisburg has landlords fuming and considering court action.

Under the law, if the city issues two disruptive conduct reports for tenants at the same rental property within 12 months, the landlord’s residential  rental  permit for the individual apartment will immediately be revoked.

Should the landlord not begin eviction proceedings against anyone living in the rental within 15 days of receiving notice of the permit revocation, the apartment would be considered unfit for occupancy.

Harrisburg is cracking down on “disruptive” people in rental properties.

The law, which goes into effect on Dec. 4, considers disruptive conduct any violation of any city law that can “reasonably” be deemed to disrupt the peace of neighbors or cause damage to neighboring properties.

It will not shut down an entire multiple-unit rental property. Bill 12 only affects the rental housing disruptive tenants. And after a landlord evicts problem tenants from a unit, they again can rent the space.

City Council members and Mayor Linda Thompson said the law protects property owners from disruptive neighbors, will drive away slum landlords and help preserve property values.

But the Capital Area Rental Property Owners Association says the bill is an overreach and unfairly targets landlords and tenants. It will hit investors in the wallet when they can least afford it in the down economy, said Arthur Sullivan, CARPOA president.

“Is City Council setting up a double standard? People who rent homes are still citizens of the city, and as such, all the [same] laws and regulations also apply to them. What I am asking City Council to do is to apply the laws currently on the book,” Sullivan said. “CARPOA is researching the possibility of taking court action to oppose the enforcement of this new bill.”

If property owners rent to quality tenants, they have no reason to worry about the law, Thompson said. She said the bill was drafted in her office and is part of her three-prong fight against blight.

“I would find it difficult to believe that a responsible landlord would reject this legislation,” Thompson said. “[Landlords] wouldn’t want [disruptive neighbors] in their neighborhoods, so how dare [they] expect us to have it in our neighborhood.

“This legislation should have been enacted years ago,” she said. “This does not affect the good landlord. We are going to run the bad guys out. This is the toughest slum landlord action taken in recent city history.”

Violations of Harrisburg’s property maintenance code is considered disruptive conduct under the law.

And should property owners notified of maintenance code violations not take corrective action within the time allotted to them in notices, the city is able to perform repair work on its own, charge owners for work and materials and tack on an additional 10 percent of repair costs.

It affects your whole life when you are next to a house with disrespectful neighbors. … You become a prisoner in your own house.”

Councilwoman Patty Kim, who is set to leave the board to become Harrisburg’s state representative, said she hopes the law acts as a deterant.

Kim said she personally knows how it feels to live next to disruptive neighbors.

She had hoped the bill would impose a more-lenient four-strikes-and-your-out mandate against landlords instead of two. But she said protecting residents from unruly neighbors was a top priority.

“It affects your whole life when you are next to a house with disrespectful neighbors. You feel like your house is a refuge, and then you become a prisoner in your own house,” Kim said. “I am trying to fight for those residents who invested in their house and deserve peace and quiet in their own homes.”

Kim is a landlord herself and said she “goes to great lengths to find quality tenants.” Too many landlords rent properties to tenants without conducting background checks simply to get a monthly rent check, she said.

The law might be perceived as unfair by landlords, but Kim agreed that it would not affect responsible rental property owners.

Larry Hatter disagrees.

Council may have the right intent at heart, but by adopting the law, it has unwittingly pushed a police responsibility onto the backs of landlords, said Hatter, chairman of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee.

The law likely will force landlords to evict tenants who, even though they were loud on occasion, pay their rent and haven’t broken leases, Hatter said.

“The purpose for government is to provide protection and the first thing [council did] was cede the responsibility of protection to the landlord,” he said. “It infringes on private property rights without a doubt. That is the first issue when you get down to the constitutional issue of the matter here.”

Hatter added that “[The law] is not within the landlord/tenant laws. How can I evict somebody when they are in compliance with their lease?”

Often, Harrisburg rental property owners are “mom-and-pop” investors with two to 10 properties in the city, Sullivan said.

Much of the housing stock they buy and rent in Harrisburg is old and takes significant financial and “blood, sweat and tears” investment, he said.

The new law will make it less attractive for those investors to do business in the city going forward because they could easily lose their rental permits through no fault of their own, Sullivan said.

Jason Lucas owns 20 rental properties in Harrisburg and 20 others within 40 minutes of the city.

With council adopting the new law, Lucas said he will not buy another rental property in the city, where it already is hard to attract tenants because of Harrisburg’s debt crisis, crime and poverty rate, poorly performing schools and high utility costs.

“I have so many problems being a landlord in a bankrupt city,” Lucas said. “I can’t believe I have to be responsible for my tenants’ actions and evict people because the government tells me to.

“You only rent to people who live in that neighborhood,” he said. “And if you try to rent to people better than that neighborhood you screw yourself because they will move out after a few months.

“We deal with the pool of people the city attracts,” he said. “They attract the demographics that live there and we have to live with them.”

 

To read more, visit http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/11/harrisburg_rental_properties_l.html

LANDLORD REFUSES TO TERMINATE LEASE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM

 Since 2007, Arizona has had a law allowing domestic-violence victims to terminate their leases early and move, without penalty, to protect their   safety.

But that hasn’t helped Anne Koshinski, who said her landlord refused to return her security deposit and threatened to collect the remaining four months’ rent due on her lease when she moved out after her abusive former boyfriend moved in across the street.

Koshinski isn’t alone, said Anthony Young, executive director of Southern Arizona Legal Aid.

Sometimes, landlords don’t know about the law, and, in some cases, he said, landlords try to intimidate tenants or keep them in the dark about their rights, Young said.

Koshinski’s ex-boyfriend was evicted from the Monterey Gardens Apartments, 1039 N. Alamo Ave., where both lived in separate apartments.

The relationship was stormy, Koshinski said, including domestic violence and culminating in her filing an order of protection with Tucson police. She doesn’t want to leave the Monterey Gardens but doesn’t feel safe with her ex living across the street, she said.

The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act allows tenants to terminate a lease when domestic violence is involved without being liable for security deposits or future rent, if they present the landlord with a protective order or a police report. But when she submitted her order of protection and request to end her lease on Sept. 27, Koshinski said, Northpoint Asset Management, which manages the complex, refused.

David Walsh, Northpoint’s president and chief marketing officer, said his firm has received legal counsel on Koshinski’s case and is not in violation of the law, but he would not comment further.

“Well, the landlord is just wrong,” Young, from Southern Arizona Legal Aid, said. He said about half the people coming to his office state they are victims of domestic violence, and an order of protection alone is enough to get tenants out of a lease.

Young advises domestic-violence victims who must move to present the landlord with the law and relevant documents such as an order of protection, and if they don’t comply, to seek legal help from offices like his. He said it is especially important for people with a Section 8 low-income housing subsidy to follow the letter of the law because a lawsuit could result in losing assistance.

“A huge dynamic of domestic violence is displacement,” said Stephanie Noriega, who works with housing issues at Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse. She estimates 150 people each month look for help with relocation from Emerge, with requests ranging from a place to stay for the night to permanent relocation resources.

Economic issues are the biggest reason victims struggle to get away from abusers and the places abusers can easily find them, Noriega said. But, she added, victims often don’t know about the statute that could ease those concerns.

The Arizona Multi-Housing Association, which was involved in passage of the law, referred questions to Becky Noel, Crime Free Multi-Housing Officer with the Tucson Police Department, which just completed its final training session of the year on Arizona tenant law for landlords and property managers.

The protection of the law is twofold – it helps victims move, and it allows landlords to remove suspects from leases and avoid incidents on their properties, Noel said. “It’s a win-win,” she said, good for everyone’s safety.

While losing income might be a concern for landlords, Noel said she believes that the statute is rarely used.

The law also provides property owners the right to seek compensation for losses from the person cited in an order of protection.

In a case like Koshinski’s, that is the ex-boyfriend, according to Young.

For her part, Koshinski is going ahead with her move even though her hopes of getting her $150 deposit back are slim.

“I hope it all works out,” she said, “but at least I can walk away knowing I did the right thing.”

 

To read more, visit: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/arizona-law-can-help-victims-of-domestic-violence-to-safety/article_a31060f9-e71e-5cc5-bed8-3d1cf8a2ba93.html

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1ST, CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS MANDATORY IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Effective January 1st, state law says landlords have to install carbon monoxide detectors on their properties.

When most people think of Carbon monoxide, they think of boating accidents, or people running the car in their garage. Well gas-fueled homes are on the increase in Washington and so is CO poisoning. Effective January 1st, state law says landlords have to install carbon monoxide detectors on their properties.

Greg Crawford owns 12 apartments along Birch Avenue in Richland.
He’s been a landlord here for more than a decade. None of his properties have carbon monoxide detectors right now.

“I don’t think a lot of people are aware. I haven’t had any tenants mention it, that they would like to have them.. carbon monoxide detectors,” Greg tells KEPR.

As of January First, every rental, hotel, apartment and remodel will have to have the detectors on each level of the home.

Greg says, “Mount them either in the ceiling or down low.”

Homes built after 2009, already have them. They weren’t required before that. Firefighters wish they were a requirement for every home. They’ve seen more cases of carbon monoxide poisoning over the years, which can come from a natural gas leak.

Batallion Chief Tod Kreutz explains, “More people are putting in gas.. we’re having more and more activations.”

In Washington, more people were hospitalized for C-O poisoning in recent years. From just 50 in 2008, to three times that last year.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning can be fatal, but it’s rare. It’s most common when there’s a power outage that lasts for a few days.This is what happened in Grant County back in 2007. A generator was brought inside a home for heat and three kids under age eight died from the fumes. It’s one more reason why firefighters say this is a cheap way to keep your family safe.

Tod continues, “It’s a minimal investment, to have some security in your home. The prices have gone down tremendously in the last few years for Carbon monoxide detectors.”

You can pick up an alarm at any general hardware store, costing anywhere from on sale here for about $25 up to $50.

Eventually, any homes sold will have to have C-O detectors, but laws are still in the works for that.

Another thing you should know, don’t save a buck by purchasing a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Smoke detectors last ten years, and carbon monoxide only six. Investing in them separately might save you in the end.

 

To read more, visit http://www.keprtv.com/news/local/New-state-laws-making-carbon-monoxide-detectors-mandatory-176348691.html

APARTMENT OWNERS MAY BE LIABLE FOR GANG ACTIVITY

Federal agents and local police arrested four members and associates of a South Los Angeles street gang Thursday, the same day city prosecutors filed a civil injunction to force changes at an apartment complex that has been a center of gang activity, authorities said.

Those arrested Thursday  — all tied to the Denver Lane Blood gang — were Rodney Longmire, 29, of Lynwood; Jermaine McClelland, 36, and Marcus Washington, 40, both of Los Angeles; and Darrell Sanford, 29, of Hawthorne.

They also were named in a series of federal grand jury indictments unsealed Thursday and included Sanford’s brother Reginald, 35, of Compton; Damone Giles, 34, of Long Beach; Quincy Giles, 30, of Los Angeles, James Madison, 40, of Inglewood; and Luvvaughn Lovings McCoy, 35, of Los Angeles.

Two of those defendants were already in custody and two are fugitives, authorities said.

The indictments accuse the defendants of assorted drug and gang charges and are the result of a two-year investigation into the gang.

If convicted on all charges, each defendant could receive up to 40 years in federal prison.

Meanwhile, in a related action, the city attorney’s office said Thursday that it had filed a civil enforcement action that would impose court-ordered conditions against the owners of a two-story, 28-unit apartment building on the 800 block of West Imperial Highway known to be frequented by the Denver Lane Blood gang.

Prosecutors said the action was in response to ongoing gang crime at the location.

In arguing for the injunction the city attorney said that over the last five years there have been nearly two dozen arrests at the property for alleged drug sales, armed robberies, gang graffiti vandalism, gun possession and beatings of residents or visitors.

Between June and September of this year, law enforcement agencies reported that investigators made half a dozen purchases of crack cocaine from multiple Denver Lane gang members and associates in and around the apartment complex.

If approved, the injunction would prohibit the owners from allowing gang members to sell drugs or commit other crimes at the property and force them to make mandatory improvements to the property.

Those fixes would include installation of a controlled entry gate, improved lighting, video surveillance, tenant screening procedures and extensive background checks, the hiring of licensed security guards, and prohibiting known gang members from accessing the property, the injunction request states.

 

To read more, visit http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/10/feds-city-attorney-target-south-la-gang-with-indictments-injunction.html

PROPOSED CITY ORDINANCE WOULD HOLD LANDLORDS ACCOUNTABLE FOR NUISANCE TENANTS

Cedar Rapids officials are making a new push to identify nuisance rental properties — including those at or near where crimes take place — and to put in place a mechanism that can assess fees and pull rental licenses from landlords with repeat violations who don’t agree to remedy them.

This latest City Hall attempt to clamp down on nuisance rental properties, nuisance landlords and nuisance tenants is being modeled after programs in Davenport, Iowa City, Dubuque and elsewhere. At a joint meeting on Thursday, the City Council’s Development Committee and Public Safety Committee agreed to bring the nuisance abatement program to a vote of the full council in December.

Here’s how the program would work:

  • A central reporting system would be used to inform landlords each time an issue comes up at one of their properties, whether it is a police call or a violation of city housing, zoning or animal ordinances.
  • The system would assess points sufficient to label a property a nuisance with repeat violations.
  • A nuisance abatement coordinator would work with landlords to come up with a plan to abate the nuisance. Landlords would be billed for city costs related to the nuisance and could have a rental license pulled if they don’t work to remedy the problems.
  • The program would ask landlords to take part in a training program and require landlords to do criminal background checks on prospective tenants, either on their own or through a city-provided service.

Council member Monica Vernon, chairwoman of the Development Committee, said on Thursday that she understands that landlords have property rights and have expressed concerns about the city infringing on those rights with tougher nuisance regulations.

“We believe in property rights, but we also believe in the rights of neighborhoods,” Vernon said. “Other property owners shouldn’t be subjected to nuisance properties.”

Police Capt. Steve O’Konek and Kevin Ciabatti, the city’s building services manager, talked to the council committees on Tuesday about how much it costs the city to continually send police officers and city zoning and housing officials to the worst of the city’s nuisance properties.

O’Konek singled out five apartment complexes in the city, noting that each had hundreds of calls for police service in each of the last three years, a cost of which was estimated at $190 an hour per call.

“We’re not going to be the private security force for landlords who think they have a God-given right to rent to anyone without doing background checks,” council member Pat Shey, a Development Committee member, emphasized on Thursday.

Shey said an ordinance in Davenport that takes steps against nuisance rental properties has worked well and resulted in a drop in the crime rate. Less crime has gotten landlords behind the program, Shey said.

Cedar Rapids area landlords have not been happy with other recent attempts by City Hall to impose certain regulations. Landlords in 2011 succeeded in court to set aside the city’s attempt to require landlords to add a “crime-free addendum” to landlord-tenant leases.

Council member Justin Shields, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said Thursday that the new nuisance abatement ordinance is designed to take on those “who don’t know how to behave.” He said that sometimes is the tenant and sometimes the landlord.

“We’re going to make some corrections,” Shields vowed. “… Some things are going to change.”

Ciabatti noted that city officials have been meeting weekly for about six months with a group of “stakeholders” that have included landlords like Mari Davis.

Davis on Thursday said the proposed new program has some good features, but she said it has the same flaw – addressing crime through landlords and rental housing – that the city’s recent unsuccessful ordinance had tried to do.

Vernon said the city’s new proposal does not “meddle” with the landlord-tenant lease.

Steve Etzel, a landlord with many rental properties in the Cedar Rapids area, on Thursday said the city needs to go after tenants who commit crimes and not punish landlords because of them.

Etzel’s partner, Tom Bevard, said the new proposed ordinance would hold a landlord accountable for a police call to the landlord’s rental property even though the tenant may not have been charged by police and so isn’t in violation of his landlord-tenant lease. How does a landlord take action in such an instance? he wondered.

Bill Roemerman, the Cedar Rapids attorney who represented local landlords against the city in the dispute over the crime-free addendum to rental agreements, on Thursday said he agreed with the “spirit” of the proposed city ordinance, but he said he wasn’t sure about using the ordinance to control the behavior of the tenant.

O’Konek said the current plan is to start to implement the new ordinance, if the council approves it, on March 1 with full implementation next July 1.

To read more, visit http://thegazette.com/2012/10/19/cedar-rapids-again-targeting-nuisance-landlords-tenants/

WHEN RENTAL UNITS NEED REPAIRS

ONE of the advantages of being a renter is that when the roof starts leaking or the hot-water heater dies, the repair is not your responsibility — in theory, that is.

In reality, some tenants have to go nine rounds with their landlord to get a plumber or a handyman on the scene. Others decide to live with peeling paint, or do without an air-conditioner, to avoid rocking the boat.

Although New York City offers help to tenants who have trouble getting repairs addressed, that assistance is generally more useful for serious problems, like a lack of heat or hot water, than it is for a dripping faucet. And housing court, the renter’s remedy of last resort, has become a less attractive option in recent years because it can land you on a blacklist used by tenant-screening companies to weed out applicants for rentals.

But there are ways to nudge a landlord to address non-urgent maintenance issues, starting with an e-mail or letter describing the problem, so that you have a record of the complaint. An emergency like a waterfall coming through the ceiling obviously warrants a phone call, but it’s still worth following up in writing and mentioning your willingness to provide access to the apartment.

“The main goal is to get the repairs done, so you want to be as clear and cooperative as possible,” said Karen Bacdayan, a housing law specialist with the Brooklyn branch of Legal Services for New York City, which offers free legal advice to low-income clients.

Lawyers who represent tenants recommend taking pictures of problems like mold on the ceiling, and keeping a log listing the dates and times when the heat or hot water wasn’t working. If the heat is not functioning properly, note both indoor and outdoor temperature. New York City requires landlords to heat apartments to at least 68 degrees between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when it is cooler than 55 degrees outside, and to at least 55 degrees between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when the outside temperature falls below 40.

If your landlord isn’t responsive to either an emergency or a serious maintenance problem, your next option is to call 311, the city’s citizen service center.

“When a complaint is called in to 311,” said Vito Mustaciuolo, a deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, “operators enter the information directly into our database and the caller is given a complaint ID number.”

The department enforces the city’s housing maintenance code and New York State’s multiple-dwelling law, so your problem has to be addressable under those regulations. Some problems that are: inadequate heat or hot water; electricity and gas malfunctions; mold; leaks; peeling paint; plumbing or sewage issues; rodent or insect infestations; and safety hazards like broken locks or window guards.

A problem that is not: a broken dishwasher or washing machine.

The department’s manual, “The ABCs of Housing,” available online, addresses repair issues.

When in doubt, Mr. Mustaciuolo said, call 311 and ask if your problem qualifies for city intervention. He notes that the city receives more than 600,000 housing complaints every year.

But give your landlord a chance to respond before you ask for city help. Frank Ricci, the director of governmental affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group for property owners, said some tenants dial 311 before even trying to deal directly with a landlord.

“There’s a fair amount of people who think they should call the city or the state when something goes wrong,” Mr. Ricci said.

Once a complaint is filed, the city will contact the landlord or the building’s managing agent, and may send out a housing inspector who can issue a violation. You can look up your address on the department’s Web site to see if any open violations or complaints were filed in the last year; you can also check the status of a complaint.

Depending on the violation, the landlord has 24 hours to 90 days to correct the problem. For immediate hazards like no heat, if the landlord does not act, the city might handle the repair and bill the landlord.

But for less urgent repairs, or for situations in which the city does not intervene, you may have to take matters into your own hands.

“Lots of landlords just ignore violations,” said James B. Fishman, a founder of Fishman & Mallon, a law firm that specializes in consumer and tenant law. “The next step would be to consider an H.P. action, which is a tenant-initiated lawsuit in housing court.”

It costs $45 to file an H.P., or Housing Part, action; the advocacy group Housing Court Answers has a guide and video on its Web site explaining the process. It also operates a hot line, at (212) 962-4795. You can file a Housing Part action on your own, or with other tenants in your building — if, for instance, your landlord has refused to fix the elevator.

Mr. Fishman said he had never seen an H.P. action show up on a tenant-screening report, but he and other lawyers advise tenants against withholding rent as a way of getting maintenance problems addressed, because of the risk that the landlord will sue to collect back rent or start eviction proceedings.

A suit by a landlord is the kind of thing that can end up on the dossiers of tenant-screening companies.

“We get calls all the time from people who can’t get apartments because of this,” said Louise Seeley, the executive director of Housing Court Answers.

The threat of that blacklist is one reason lawyers caution against paying for repairs yourself and deducting the cost from your rent, unless you have received written permission from your landlord.

Jeffrey McAdams, a tenant lawyer in Manhattan, said that you could be sued later for not having paid your full rent. But he emphasized that tenants should not feel they have to live with a problem like a plumbing backup, just because they might have aggravated the situation.

“Part of living in an apartment is that things break,” he said. “Other than an extreme case, it’s the landlord’s responsibility and the landlord’s expense to make the repairs.”

To read more, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/realestate/getting-started-when-a-rental-needs-a-repair.html

PROPERTY OWNERS RESPONSIBLE FOR METH LAB CLEANUPS IN OHIO CITY

If a methamphetamine lab is busted in Cuyahoga Falls, the property owner must pay to have it dismantled and hauled away.

The City Council last week voted to pass along the $1,000 to $2,000 cleanup charge to the property owner. If the lab is in a rental property, the landlord will get the bill.

This cleanup charge will be in addition to the bill for decontamination of the property once a police investigation is finished. That cost can range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Cuyahoga Falls uses the Summit County Drug Unit to assist with investigations. When officers find an active meth lab, the drug unit calls in a private company to dispose of the chemicals. The company then bills the county.

From July through September, the county was billed more than $16,000 for the disposal of chemicals used to make meth, Cuyahoga Falls police Chief Tom Pozza said.

Pozza said he asked the City Council to approve the ordinance in anticipation of the sheriff’s office passing the cost to the communities.

Dennis E. Bates, former president of the Falls Landlord Council and a landlord for 40 years, said he thinks there should be exceptions.

“Usually what would be happening is there’s a tenant who passes your screening and then has a friend or relative come in and use the house for a meth lab,” Bates said. “If you have those kinds of situations, to put the burden on the landlord is just not right.”

A member of the Summit County Drug Unit has attended Landlord Council meetings to teach property owners what to look for during routine inspections to identify possibly illegal drug activity.

“We’re watching constantly for signs,” Bates said.

Pozza said he sympathizes with Bates and other landlords who may find themselves with an unexpected bill for chemical disposal.

“He has a good point, but I don’t want taxpayers’ money to go for the cleanup,” Pozza said. “Landlords can sue the [tenant] to recoup their money.”

To read more, visit http://www.ohio.com/news/local-news/cuyahoga-falls-property-owners-to-pay-for-meth-lab-cleanups-1.242723