Property Rights Foundation of America®

September 12, 2003
The Press
Ellenville, New York

To the Editor:

Present Ellenville administration's obsession with getting rid of what they as a clique-crony group stereotypically determine to be "blight" properties would be served better than by chasing all the poorer tenants away rather by offering more, newer and better multiple-family housing at more reasonable rents than private, unfounded, non-grant-money private landlords can offer, as our mayor put forth on August 25th at a village board meeting. I heartily agree.

It may not seem to be timely or advisable to suggest implementing lower-income (multiple-family) housing at this time of Ellenville's climate because it would possibly be counter productive and not politically correct or expedient, I tend to believe, because, from what I've seen and picked up, they (the Ellenville Village administration) seem to be hell bent upon just simply chasing poorer people and landlords offering housing for lower-income tenants out of town altogether without giving any thought or options as to where they can go.

There have been articles in our local paper, The Press, about this.

When I mentioned at a village board meeting that RUPCO (§8) had lots of money to dole out (I was told directly by a RUPCO agent) but that Ellenville's administration would have to "stop chasing poor people out of downtown before they could get it" (the money), there was a telling hush from everyone. Later Mayor Jeffrey Kaplan included "multiple-family housing" in his roster of projects to consider doing.

My rentals are middle-ground — not lowest income nor highest. My neighborhood has always been good — more upscale middle class. But some of my tenants have not been so, to my displeasure as well.

The internal village administrative conflict that's been hurting my business operations is this:

While Mayor, Village Manager, police are bent upon beautification of properties and immaculate maintenance and pristine carekeeping matching wealthier communities, when I've tried to evict — always on basis of nonpayment of rent — the Village Court favors the tenant in each and every instance invariably, that tenant is allowed to holdover even more. So that, in addition to the rent lost before landlord began eviction proceedings, there is tacked on at least one to two, sometimes three, and in one extreme case, it was four more months court allowed non-rent-paying tenant to holdover.

Such forced loss of income has been very hurtful over the years. Such local court practice has been ongoing for two decades I personally know of.

Only recently (in last year) has Hon. Judge Matthew Parker apparently been informed of what the law is from some source strong enough that he now more often than not (but still not always) follows NYS Statutory Law on eviction policy and procedure.

So, to condense my point, on the one hand one part of village administration wants us small-scale landlords to maintain exceptionally well-kept-cosmetically properties while another part of the village administration does its damnedest to undercut our profitability. And only if we have a healthy profit margin may we steer funds for cosmetic beauty. Infrastructural physical pragmatic functional repairs and maintenance must needs come first. Only if there is additional discretionary funds after essential repairs may we beautify.

It would help us small-scale landlords enormously if the local administrators took it upon themselves to understand our plight and follow right reason, be equitable, and judicious within overall picture rather than identifying with and favoring non-rent tenants over landlords.

Tickets for tenants' abandoned cars, tenants' garbage sticking out above trash pails, litter strewn by tenants, lids off tenants' trash pails, etc. should be given to the tenants, not the property owner.

Property-owner landlords are not supposed to be designated to be acting as disciplinary parents of tenant. We should not be related to as if we were. Landlords are not tenants' authoritarian disciplinarian. Tenants are their own person.

Landlord should not have to police their tenants, the police should.

Teachers in schools are not punished for the wrongdoings or sloppy behavior of their students. So why are landlords punished for lax behavior of their tenants?

It is understood why a hotel or a motel would be proper recipient of a citation for improper maintenance of their property for transients paying big, big bucks (our area $59.95/night minimum). But long-term 30-day month-to-month rental tenants ($15+/day) are not, can not be, and should not be treated as "guests." They are not shelling out the bucks necessary for them to be treated or served as such. So why does the village treat them as if they were?

This practice is undeniably obviously wrong. I want it to have a stop put to such practice ASAP. [Tortured syntax on purpose].

Or, until our local court allows crossclaims or so-called "counter claims" as is supposed to be offend in a justice court, by law, at least to transfer all cases to a court that does, so landlord has avenues of satisfaction so deserved.

Paul T. Johnson
Ellenville & NYC

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