According to testimony given by city officials Tuesday, a body that will be crucial to fighting the war against slum landlords only meets when it actually has cases, as opposed to regular meetings.
This important weapon in the city’s arsenal – which ensures that housing inspections fines aren’t passed along to renters – is a body known as the Rent Stabilization Board.
This body has the ability to hear complaints from tenants when their landlords unfairly or illegally raise rent in a manner not stated in the lease agreement or with a lease than contains more than a three percent annual increase, as allowed by law.
One problem with this – and other measures meant to protect renters – is that residents probably don’t know about it, or think it no longer exists. Having a regular schedule of meetings would make its presence better known within the community, and probably shore up its ability to protect renters.
This in turn would lead to more effective inspections, more effective enforcement, and eventually better quality housing as landlords made the decision that better upkeep of residential units is less costly than facing fines from the inspections department.
Going right along with this reasoning is the ordinance that Councilman Coston circulated in City Council this week, which would have increased inspections from every five years to every year.
This every five years is a joke. A landlord could rent out a house, let it fall to complete shambles, and abandon the property having made his money in the five years since the inspection guys last came through.
The administration’s new plan for housing must include a proviso like this, otherwise Mr. Coston’s revision must be passed.