TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board is preparing to take legal action against a Niagara Falls landlord regarding the disruptive actions of her tenants.
The board members agreed at a work session Thursday to impose $17,000 in fines on Laura Rhoney of Pasadena Avenue for her failure to address the actions of her tenants at a home on Woodland Avenue who have been involved in a number of criminal activities, according to officials.
Since early 2012, neighbors have complained to the board that Rhoney’s renters have been harassing them with activities that begin with loud drinking parties and fireworks. If anyone complains or calls the police, they are harassed by the tenants with profanities and threats. Several neighbors said they are unable to go out on their porches, take their children for walks or even get their mail without being accosted. Vehicles and property in the area have been vandalized, it was noted. Petitions have been submitted to the board to request that action be taken to stop the crimes.
Police Chief James Suitor told the board that the problem is ongoing and patrols are routinely called to the neighborhood. Most recently, the police received calls that the tenants were shining laser lights into the windows of neighbors. At least one tenant has been charged and prosecuted in Town Court, according to Suitor, and an order of protection has been issued.
The board is enforcing a quality of life local law it enacted in 2011 that holds landlords responsible for tenants who take part in crimes such as drug activity, weapons possession, assault, domestic violence, murder, sexual assault, gang activity or any other similar activity listed in the state penal law. Officers only need to respond and issue a report of a complaint. Arrests or convictions are not necessary for the fines to be levied, officials said. The law is modeled after a similar statute in Cheektowaga.
Rhoney, who appeared at a work session last year, requested – and was provided – a list of the crimes alleged against her tenants. She has failed to respond and needs to be brought before the board, Town Attorney Michael Risman said. Risman said that Rhoney would be given the opportunity to address the issue before a final disposition is rendered by the board.
The board wants her to pay the fine and get rid of the tenants so the issue is being put on the Jan. 22 agenda. If she fails to pay the fine, the amount would be added to the property tax roll.
Risman commented that the law may have backfired in a sense.
According to Councilman Marc Carpenter, one of the neighbors who has been complaining now has his house for sale.
“Our goal is to get the tenant evicted, not the neighbor,” Risman told the board.