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LANDLORDS PRAISE NEW SOCIAL SERVICES POLICY

A local landlord group is touting its first success since forming several months ago.

The Landlord Association of Greater Niagara has persuaded the Niagara County Department of Social Services to agree on a policy change that gives landlords longer notice before tenants on welfare can terminate a rent-voucher agreement.

It was one of the first policy changes sought by the group when it was formed four months ago, association President Victoria Orzetti told members Monday.

The new policy, which went into effect Oct. 1, now requires tenants to wait 15 days before changing the method of paying their rent.

Instead of receiving a direct rent subsidy, some clients elect to have Social Services pay their rents by issuing a rent voucher to the landlord.

Prior to Oct. 1, such tenants had to wait only seven days to terminate a rent-voucher agreement with their landlord and have Social Services issue a check for the rent directly to the tenant instead.

The extended period of time now required by Social Services will make it more difficult for some tenants on welfare to move out of their apartments without giving prior notice to the landlords and avoid paying their rent, Orzetti said.

"This means, if they miss the 15-day mark, (Social Services) can't stop our vouchers. It gives us more notice before tenants (tell Social Services), 'Don't pay my landlord any more,' " she said.

"We want to stretch it to 30 days (notice), but what we have now really is a big accomplishment," she added.

Meanwhile, Niagara Falls Police Chief Christopher J. Carlin addressed group members who met in Earl W. Brydges Library on Monday. He discussed a range of issues with the landlords, including what steps they should take in dealing with tenants they suspect might be selling illegal drugs from their apartments and whether landlords can seek criminal background checks on prospective tenants.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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