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Linehan Supports Proposal to Fine Unruly Residents and Landlords

Boston City Councilors want a new tool to deal with problem tenants and property owners.

Frustrated with unruly tenants and absentee landlords, Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina proposed fining property owners to hold them accountable.

"This is an ongoing issue affecting the quality of life with loud apartments, roof decks. These are often your professionals and students," said LaMattina at Wednesday's Boston City Council meeting. 

LaMattina said property owners with repeat offenses would be identified to police. He suggested a $100 fine for the first offense; $300 for the second offense – and that the unruly person(s) as well as the landlord would be cited. However, he added that if the property owner proves he or she has worked with the police and local officials, they could have the fine revoked. 

LaMattina said he and District 8 Councilor Mike Ross have sent letters to some landlords in the past about problem properties but had no response from the landlords.

"There are some really good landlords in neighborhoods. In District 1, if it is owner-occupied, you don’t have a lot of these troubles in their houses," said LaMattina. 

"I don’t think this is a tool – this is a last ditch effort with those who refuse to work with police, our offices, and the community to bring things under control," Ross said at the council meeting. "We're talking about a few bad apples. People (who have) registered 15 complaints (against them)."

Ross talked about a recent problem in which students hurled propane tanks off a Mission Hill roof at a police officer working a detail. Ross said the tenants had access to the roof when they should not have been allowed there.

District 2 Councilor Bill Linehan said problem tenants and absentee landlords are more of a problem in the denser Boston neighborhoods like the South End, South Boston and the North End. He knows that Ross deals with continual problems in the Back Bay, Mission Hill and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Said Linehan, "It's become an issue as more and more people are here. The city is getting younger, therefore it can be a rub on residents."

"This is not to stop social gatherings or having a good time, but to get rid of a gathering that creates a disturbance," said LaMattina.

The order was moved to the Committee on Government Operations for a future hearing to amend the City's current nuisance control laws.

The city already has a "Problem Properties Task Force." But that inter-department effort is focused more on addresses where crimes like prostitution, drug dealing, assaults and murder take place. All of the properties on the list  (as of Sunday) are in Dorchester, Roxbury and Allston.

walter ferme August 06, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I am curious if there are any other ways to deal with this. LaMattina and Linehan's solution is fines to landlords... this is not a deterrent to tenants... What should the landlord do when a tenant hurls a propane tank at police from a roof deck that was not supposed to be used by tenants? How about a housing court which allows speedy evictions of problem tenants after a couple of non anonymous neighbor complaints?
Southender August 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
This is the first we have heard from Linehan since he so narrowly won the election. He generally does nothing. Do you really expect him to solve a problem.

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