It has been four years since the last attempt by Councilman David Franczyk to license absentee landlords in Buffalo and he still hasn't learned anything.
Had he done his homework, he would know that it's the tenants who should be registered. They're the ones who don't have respect for their apartments. It's not the landlords who break windows and doors, or are too lazy to pick up their garbage.
If Franczyk were sincere about saving Buffalo's housing stock, where was his outspoken advocacy for a recent attempt in the Assembly to allow property owners/landlords to recover damages when they take a Social Services recipient to small-claims court and win? As it is now, they are untouchable because landlords legally cannot access any monetary benefits these people receive.
Many landlords have horror stories about welfare tenants damaging their properties, but we are powerless to hold them financially accountable. There lies the root of the problem -- not the landlord who gives up because he's tired of making the same repairs due to someone else's negligence. Sure there are slumlords, just like there are perfect tenants -- but they're few and far between.
One innovative property owner in Buffalo has a tenant-trace program, which allows landlords to check the rental history of a prospective tenant. But it only lists people who have been evicted. Buffalo needs a more comprehensive registry so property owners can screen tenants.
City officials and landlords must work together if we are to improve our housing. Holding only the property taxpayer accountable will further destroy our housing.
I'm in full support of a landlord-tenant law that holds both parties accountable for their actions. Then perhaps I won't have to replace the same window, patch a wall, replace a toilet or pay a garbage summons because my tenant was too lazy to observe the city's rules.
Joseph Domagala Getzville