Why do landlords get special treatment?

The following is an article written by Jim Begley, former Bridgeton mayor. While MWatch is specifically geared towards county issues rather than municipal issues, I am running it because it touches a nerve. Slumlords are at the root of many of the ills we face in this county today. The crime, the nuisance problems, the decline of the quality of life all have at their roots a common denominator.

Take a look at the police blotter any day of the week and rental properties will figure in to at least 90% of them. It is not that renters are criminals; the issue runs deeper. I would suggest the majority of renters are decent people caught in a catch-22 situation.

Whenever a neighborhood has a ratio of rental units greater than 65% of the total housing, you create a cancer that spreads. Why is this? When a neighborhood has a turnover rate that is ramped up by a skewed ratio of rental units, you create a transient population and destroy the fabric of community.  The decent tenants are not in their house long enough to develop relationships and friendships in their neighborhood.  People are not invested in their neighborhoods, and they allow trash to accumulate on the streets rather than bending over and picking it up. They have no clue who their neighbors are, criminals know this, and break-in, trespassing and vandalism increase.

Since landlords create a majority of problems that detract from the quality of life, all the while making an income off of their investment, Jim is correct in questioning why homeowners are being forced to subsidize them.

An ordinance brought forward by a city councilman for a “neighbor” just before last Thanksgiving made several changes to trash fees benefiting multi unit apartment complexes to pay as little as $13.33 per month or $160.00 per year, per unit. This ordinance is a classic back room deal, proof being that to date only one landlord(the neighbor) has taken advantage of this program.

Multi-dwelling unit properties having more than five, but less than 10 units shall have the option to participate in the city’s solid waste and recycling program as specified herein, or obtain their own waste and recycling materials disposal contractor.[Added 11-14-2011 by Ord. No. 11-15]

(1) A minimum of four rolling trash containers shall be issued when participating in the city’s program. Additional containers may be requested for an additional fixed fee pursuant to Article II

Majority in Bridgeton pay $90.00 a quarter or $360.00 a year for trash collection. Properties generating the most trash receive a reduced rate and home owner’s are subsidizing landlords. Why are we all not getting a special rate? If large multi unit apartment complex can get trash collected for as little as $13.33 per month why does the home owner pay three times as much? We all should be paying less. Seniors don’t get this good of a deal; seniors pay $60.00 per quarter. How does a family of 4 generate more trash than 18-24 people in a multi unit apartment complex?

For the purposes of this chapter, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that waste material in front of a property emanated from that property. Except for multi-dwelling unit properties having more than one tenant, the property owner of record shall be responsible for the proper disposal of all waste materials in front of the property or dwelling where such material is found. In all other cases, a NOPC will be issued pursuant to § 300-36. [Amended 11-14-2011 by Ord. No. 11-15]

This is another gift city council and the mayor did to help landlords beat a fine. The above exemption allows a landlord to identify the offender. Homeowners must appear to fight a violation.

B. The property owner shall have 10 calendar days from the issue date of the NOPC to provide the Department of Public Works the name, and address, of the person responsible for the offense. The reply shall be made in writing by mail (or e-mail) to the address specified in the NOPC.

C. For each offense specified in a NOPC, a corresponding complaint shall be issued as follows:

(1) To the person identified in the written reply to the NOPC as responsible for the offense; or

A Landlord can just email a name and an address to public works and the process starts all over again. How much success has that been? Just look at the streets. Now,as a home owner if you get a trash ticket may you email Public Works and tell them it was a pickup truck that came down your street- I think it was blue with PA plates, that put the trash in my container? Good Luck.

It seems that special interest groups (LANDLORDS) are in charge of what is good for the city. Why do we need a Mayor and City Council? Just ask a landlord, he’s pulling the strings on this group.

Bridgeton deserves better.

James B. Begley

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