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SCHENECTADY
‘You will be held responsible’ Landlord will be first to go to jail under tougher rules
BY KATHLEEN MOORE
Gazette Reporter
For the first time since the city began
to stringently enforce code violations,
a landlord is heading to jail.
Edward Kahn will report to jail
Monday for a seven-day sentence.
He must also pay $50,000 in fi nes for
renting apartments at 33 Swan St. with
leaking pipes, holes in the ceilings and
walls, and broken windows.
Originally, his sentence was an
$85,000 fi ne and no jail time. But he
didn’t pay, so City Court Judge Mark
Blanchfield sentenced him to a week
in jail with a reduced fi ne.
Kahn said Tuesday he will turn
himself in, but he’s not happy with
the decision. “I think it’s illegal,” he
said. “It is what it is. I’ll do seven
days. I’m 73 years old. This last year
and a half, having something hanging
over your head — you’re going to jail,
you’re going to jail — if I was 30 or 40
I could probably have taken it a little
bit easier.”
He said he’ll be relieved when it’s
over.
“It could have been a lot worse.
They were talking six months in
jail,” he said.
Deputy Corporation Counsel
Carl Falotico said he hoped the
jail sentence would send a message
to other landlords who do not
fi x their properties.
“We’re serious about rental
property,” he said. “We want to
work with you. But if you’re going
to thumb your nose at us and
not follow the rules, we will use
everything in our arsenal.”
A former tenant reported the
building conditions to the city.
When code enforcers inspected,
they confi rmed the reports and
also found no carbon monoxide
detectors and no rental certifi -
cates.
Landlords are required to get
an inspection before they rent
each unit.
The case was unusual because
Kahn claimed in court that he
never owned or operated the deteriorating
apartment building.
“The funny part is I don’t own
the building. They accused me of
being the operator,” Kahn said
Tuesday. “A friend of mine had
the building. I was working with
him on the building.”
But he bought the building in
2012 and fi led the deed. Falotico
said the purchase could have been
an attempt to mask the true ownership
of the building.
Three people, including Kahn,
passed ownership back and forth,
Falotico said.
Kahn said he was a victim of
fi ling: He claimed he owned the
building for just 20 minutes.
“I couldn’t get a mortgage on the
building,” he said. “I’ve had some
foreclosures.”
So, he said, he transferred it
within minutes to another friend,
who did not file her deed for
months.
In the middle of his court trial,
he produced the deed. But the trial
went on anyway.
City offi cials produced evidence
that he was the one renting apartments,
communicating with code
inspectors and otherwise involved
in running the building. As the operator
of the rental operation, he
was still responsible for following
city laws, Falotico said.
Kahn represented himself in
court, even after several adjournments
in which Blanchfi eld urged
him to fi nd a lawyer. Kahn said attorneys
wanted $7,000 to $20,000,
which he didn’t want to pay.
With delays for his research
and the requests that he fi nd an
attorney, the case dragged on for
more than a year.
“Maybe people expect if they
drag these cases out we’ll give
them an offer,” Falotico said, adding
that they would be wrong to
think that.
“At the end of the day, you will
be held responsible.”

It is unfortunate when a daily newspaper continues the blatent practice of biased news reporting and editorializing. This is especially true with the editorial printed in todays paper.
Schenectady Landlords are neither idiots or living in la la land and for the newspaper to actually print this shows their contempt for hard working middle class citizens in general.
It is my understanding that the newspaper’s “politics” is strictly with the “Democrat Party” and therefore is totally biased toward the city’s current “Democrat Dictatorship.” This opinion is derived from the college minor of Political Science as is known to be possessed by one of the “unbiased editors” working for the publication.
But you all may certainly come up with your own opinions and conclusions after some careful reading.

Saturday March 16, 2013 EDITORIALS

Sch’dy landlords still in la-la land

It’s hard to read a story like the one in Tuesday’s paper about Schenectady landlords and the city’s rental inspection program and not be amused. At the City Council meeting the night before, a group of them banded together to read a prepared, nine-minute statement, passing it off from one to the other at exactly three-minute intervals to stay within the council’s time limit during “privilege of the fl oor.” A novel approach that got their message across, but it was mostly the same, old stale one. Landlords have never accepted the rental inspection program, which currently requires them to get any apartment inspected every time a tenant moves out. It’s no surprise why: First, there’s a $50 fee for every inspection, and any time an inspection turns up a code violation or other issue, it costs them money to address it. There are a lot of good landlords in the city, for whom the inspections are essentially a nuisance. But there are plenty of bad ones, too — which is why the city needs a program like this. If more landlords went along with the program, and fi xed defi – ciencies the way they’re supposed to, there wouldn’t as many apartments in such sad shape throughout the city. But many landlords ignore the program, and the city has had trouble fi nding them and bringing them to justice. The idea of regular, mandatory inspections for all apartments (not just ones in multi-unit buildings, as was proposed earlier this winter) would address the problem of scofflaw landlords, but the three-year interval recommended by landlords at Monday’s meeting is too long. A year would be OK, except for “good” landlords who never get cited; they might be given two years. To keep up with the work, the city would have to hire more inspectors — otherwise it couldn’t get to every apartment on schedule — but with all landlords participating, enough revenue would be generated to cover the program’s cost. Covering the program’s cost is what the inspection fee should be set at, but the City Council shouldn’t even think about cutting it from the current $50 level until it knows that the program is self-sustaining. The landlords did make one reasonable suggestion Monday — having the city prepare a checklist, so they know what’s expected of them in advance. This would also make inspectors more likely to treat all landlords fairly, which has been a common complaint among landlords.

 

Schenectady does a different kind of code sweep
Crews fix serious issues on the spot
Friday, April 13, 2012

By Kathleen Moore (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY — On the first neighborhood sweep under the reorganized codes department, code enforcers did not simply leave violation notices taped to residents’ doors.

With the help of firefighters, city attorneys and police, they took down collapsing chimneys, boarded up houses and resecured loose sheet metal on rooftops. They evicted squatters. And when they came upon a house with nothing worse than peeling paint, they left a gentle note asking the owner to consider fixing it.

Residents in the city’s Bellevue neighborhood were thrilled.

Code sweep schedule

• April 3 and 17: Bellevue
• May 1 and 1: Mont Pleasant
• June 5 and 19: North End
• July 3 and 17: Woodlawn
• Aug. 7 and 21: Eastern Avenue

“It’s how it should have been done in the past,” Jacquie Hurd said. “I hope it continues. It needs to continue.”

Bellevue’s two-day sweep last week was a far cry from what the code enforcers used to do, residents say. In previous years, they taped up violation notices that left residents feeling so insulted that many complained to the City Council instead of fixing their homes.

Many residents said then that they felt as though code enforcers treated a small patch of worn-away paint with the same severity as a collapsing house. And indeed, the building inspector at the time insisted that both problems be treated equally.

That policy has been changed, replaced with courtesy notices that inform residents of a problem.

“We encourage you to take the next 30 days to rectify the situation,” the letter reads. “You can call our office for any questions.”

Those who have problems that need building permits are left an additional note, explaining how to get a permit.

If they ignore the letter they might get a violation notice in 30 days, but they will be given another month to fix it.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE —–> http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/apr/13/0413_sweep/

Landlords group to meet tonight

SCHENECTADY — The new group Schenectady Landlords Influencing Change will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 this evening at Petta’s Restaurant, 134 Duane Ave.

The rental certificate program will be the main topic of the evening.

A presentation by Schenectady’s new building inspector, Eric Shilling, is planned. All interested parties are welcome.

There are new EPA rules about Lead Paint and reconstruction including window replacement that took effect April 22, 2010.

EPA Requirements

Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.

To protect against this risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, beginning in April 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

Until that time, EPA recommends that anyone performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools follow lead-safe work practices.

  • All contractors should follow these three simple procedures:
    • Contain the work area.
    • Minimize dust.
    • Clean up thoroughly.

     

This information can be found in full at: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm

On July 30, 2002 New York Governor Pataki signed into law SB 475/AB 2424, legislation requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all new residential construction in the state. The NEMA recommends that all detectors comply with NFPA standard 720, “Recommended Practice for the Installation of Household Carbon Monoxide Equipment.” and Underwriters Laboratory standard 2034, which establishes requirements for the manufacture of single and multiple station carbon monoxide alarms.

That was in 2002, for New Construction. However, recently a new law was enacted that requires a Landlord to have carbon monoxide detectors in their rental units.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Become Mandatory in New York February 22, 2010.

Amanda’s Law, signed into law in August 2009, takes effect. Amanda’s Law mandates the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes in New York State. The law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, New York, who died on January 17, 2009, due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while she was sleeping at a friend’s house.

Under Amanda’s Law, homes built before January 1, 2008, are permitted to have battery-powered CO alarms, while homes built after this date are required to have the alarms hard-wired into the building. Previously, only homes built or bought after July 30, 2002 were required to have these devices installed. Additionally, Amanda’s Law will require contractors in New York State to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Amanda’s law requires existing one- and two-family residences to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm installed on the lowest floor of the building having a sleeping area. The alarm must be clearly audible in all sleeping areas over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.

Further Information Regarding Carbon Monoxide Law in New York State

SCHENECTADY
Council leader pushes dual tax-rate plan 
    The city will need state approval to create a new tax system that would charge landlords more than owner-occupants.
    …    “Our costs are driven by absentee landlords,” McCarthy said.

January 20th, 2010

This is only a clip of the article. We will get more information on it and what their process is.

This article appeared in the Daily Gazette on November 11, 2009.

Landlords offered free help
to trim city code problems

BY MICHAEL LAMENDOLA
Gazette Reporter

Excerpts from the article include …

 … The pilot program, called Guidance Responsible Owners Want, or GROW, aims to help owners become better property managers and to help the city reduce the incidence of problem landlords violating housing codes. …

 … Stratton said Sunrise approached the city to offer the pilot program. He said the city at this time does not expect to contract with Sunrise once the program concludes in a year. …

 … “Real estate is Schenectady’s biggest business, representing a $3.4 billion market,” Holland said. “The city has the most to lose with property owners who go into foreclosure. The city loses taxes and the quality of life suffers. The goal is to keep new investment coming into the city.” …

Please note that its not offered to the most common Schenectady Landlord, the one who may have two or three two-family homes. We will look into this a bit more and try to find out what its all about.

Being a Landlord is pretty much standard, at least in Schenectady. There are rules and laws you must adhere to and you must pay taxes and keep up the rental units. This blog tries to present all of the rules and give you suggestions on what to do.

Is there any redress for the Landlord? I’m not sure but we’re going to find out.

This article appeared the Schenectady’s Daily Gazette on Friday, October 30, 2009.

Training should help code enforcers

Tickets thrown out of court prompt recent session on obtaining evidence legally

Some excerpts from the article include…

 … Two code violators saw their tickets thrown out of court recently when city code enforcers were forced to admit on the stand that they had no evidence to prove their allegations.

 … Building Inspector Keith Lamp said he was startled to learn during the session that he had been doing things wrong his entire career.
 
 … Among the mistakes made regularly by enforcers, Van Norden explained that law enforcement can’t trespass on private property, peer in windows or make conclusions without gathering evidence to support it.

… updates to follow.

After reading this article several times, I decided to write a letter to the opinion editor at the Daily Gazette.

I’m going to have to complain about how Kathleen Moore began her article titled, “Training should help code enforcers,” published in the Daily Gazette, Friday, October 30, 2009.

She begins the article as follows, “Two code violators saw their tickets thrown out of court recently when city code enforcers were forced to admit on the stand that they had no evidence to prove their allegations.”

That’s the key word here, “allegations.” And Kathleen started it with the phrase “Two code violators.” Obviously they were not code violators but rather took their case to court in order to prove their innocense.

Perhaps it was an article telling the public how our city administration is working tirelessly to correct the obvious inadequacies in knowledge and professionalism by our city employees but it remains that those who were cited were further slandered by this newspaper.

Its unfortunate that our city takes the position of shoot first and answer questions later in court if necessary. There aren’t enough property owners and taxpayers willing to put the time, effort and money into fighting the city and I hope that changes.

And its unfortunate that this newspaper appears to support biased reporting instead of reporting the facts of the case. It was also interesting to note that after decades of city service, city employees were doing it wrong all along. My thanks to the two “code violators” for taking the city to court.

I doubt they’ll publish it. We’ll see.

Update November 7, 2009.

The Editorial Staff at the Daily Gazette saw fit to write this Opinion piece. It appeared in the November 1, 2009 edition. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, their reference to Landlords sharing their tales of woe. 

Please note that its doubtful that any editor is a Landlord, either in Schenectady or elsewhere.

Code inspectors must obey rules

Some excerpts from the editorial include…

 … Schenectady’s code enforcement personnel don’t always follow proper procedures when it comes to looking for code violations … the revelation that Keith Lamp — the long-tenured building inspector responsible for those people — was himself ignorant of some of the things inspectors can and can’t do in the course of addressing violations.

 … City offi cials don’t know how many violations cited by code enforcement personnel over the years may have been thrown out of court on legal technicalities.
 
 … since the infractions tend to be committed by the same types of scofflaw (many of whom are landlords), and since many of them share their tales of woe with one another …

It is obvious that the “editorial staff” at the Daily Gazette are about as clueless as this current administration, all members of the Schenectady City Council, the Mayor and the Public Safety Commissioner.

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