Friday, August 31, 2012

Rental Housing Meeting Next Week

A public meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 5, to discuss problems and issues related to rental units in Hudson and the possibility of enacting a housing inspection law. Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "Meeting will focus on city housing." The meeting, which brings together landlords, tenants, and representatives of the police and fire departments, was organized by Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), chair of the Common Council Legal Committee. It begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall. 


  1. It's not a public meeting but a hearing to which the public is invited.

  2. The Register Star story inadvertently adds confusion, unless the only purpose of inviting the HPD is to have them verify a foregone conclusion about inspections.

    Commissioner Graziano is correct when he describes as “mind-boggling" the amount of unlawful and uncivil activities which regularly issue "from certain problematic housing."

    I could wish he'd put a dollar amount on that since the cost to taxpayers for all of these police visits is even more astounding.

    But when we equate bad behavioral issues with a need for inspections of rental properties and then leave it at that, we're indulging in the fantasy that people are only victims of their environments.

    Such a weak argument has the unfortunate consequence of relieving landlords of the burden they owe the rest of society by conducting proper background checks and vetting their customers.

    In an attempt to nip the problem in the bud, many communities are exploring what are called "animal house" laws. These aim to remove the financial burden on taxpayers when the number of police calls for any specific rental unit becomes “mind-boggling."

    For instance, earlier this year a house on lower Allen Street - a house that would have no problem passing any inspections - cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money in HPD visits and surveillance by the narcotics squad. The residence's illegal activities eventually spread as far as Union Street and subsequent calls to the HPD from there.

    Eventually an alderman explained the situation to the absentee landlord and the tenants were evicted. (We were lucky, seeing as though many landlords will hide behind tenants rights laws to shield their bad choices while ensuring uninterrupted income.)

    Recently the same house was rented again, but multiple calls to the HPD commenced almost immediately.

    All of these issues are wholly independent of the question of substandard rental units, which we also aim to do something about.

    I hope the participants of this hearing will remember all of the residents of Hudson, renters and owners alike, who are forced to live in substandard neighborhoods due to the poor decisions of greedy, absentee landlords (leaving aside the cost to us all for the HPD visits).

    It's high time we consider giving these far-flung landlords a little incentive to choose their customers more responsibly.