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BILL AIMS TO EMPOWER CITY TENANTS ABSENTEE LANDLORDS TARGETED IN PROPOSAL

Buffalo housing officials and tenants throughout the city would be able to sue absentee landlords more easily under legislation approved Tuesday by the Assembly.

Landlords owning building with at least three apartments would be required to register their names and home addresses with municipal officials, according to legislation sponsored by Assemblyman William Hoyt, D-Buffalo.

Currently, landlords can simply leave a post office box, making it more difficult to bring legal actions against them. Police, housing inspectors, private attorneys or tenants must launch investigations to find the addresses of these landlords, Hoyt and others say.

The legislation was approved with opposition by Republicans, including Assemblyman Thomas Reynolds, D-Springville, and Assemblyman Richard Anderson, R-Amherst. Reynolds said it was unfair to expect towns that don't require any registration, such as Springville, to start maintaining such a record.

Landlords owning at least 10 percent of a building would be required to file their addresses, Hoyt noted. That filing would not have to be renewed each year.

His legislation faces a tougher time in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"In several town meetings, I have been told of neighborhood decay caused by irresponsible landlords who do not maintain their properties and who cannot be contacted by housing inspectors," Hoyt said.

"Now we will be able to hold the few irresponsible landlords more accountable and provide an important first step in enforcing the housing codes as we fight to preserve our housing stock."

Buffalo Housing Court Judge Alois Mazur applauded the legislation, saying it will help housing cases proceed more quickly. Mazur said that in the case of eviction proceedings requested by landlords, he already is requiring landlords to disclose their true addresses.

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