I am required to provide another update as there was an early morning change that the city council made that I feel is soft on crime and puts public safety at greater risk. I was caught completely unaware of this when Ed Hruska brought it up at the end of a five and a half hour meeting.
The change we made was to implement a change that no action can be taken against compliant properties. The issues is that one of the goals of initiating this code of conduct was that it would allow us to drive persistently bad or dangerous landlords out of Rochester. Laura Boardman (though I see the Post Bulletin reported that she is now divorced, so I will have to update the name) who took her illegal tenant / boyfriend / debt collector on a shooting spree would now be able to remain in the slumlord business as a result of this change. Recall that the previous language allowed but did not require us to take serious action against problem landlords. For as long as I have lived in Rochester, the city has never gone after a good landlord so some of the fears seem unfounded.
Now if a landlord who owns 10 properties in Rochester is responsible for something that is a serious threat to public safety at one property, we could take action against that property, but we would allow them endanger the public 9 more times. If that sounds like we are being soft on crime, I would have to agree.
That said after decades of doing nothing the city at least moved forward on some changes to close loopholes and better protect the public. Going forward there are 5 things I think we should do.
- Continue to be fair to the good responsible landlords that sometimes make mistakes of have bad tenants.
- Determine ways to go after problem tenants and assist landlords.
- Root out rental properties that are not permitted. I would suggest a reward for turning in unlicensed rentals.
- Reverse this last minute change and preserve our right to shut down slumlords.
- Get serious about disallowing the for profit use of blighted properties.