Reform Rochester Now!

Making city and citizens self-sustaining

Illegal Tenancy

I stood in court February 3rd with my original water bill, tangible proof of the huge overages I had reason to believe were caused by the activities of the tenant I was trying to evict.

Rochester City Court Judges have a good argument if they choose to vocalize in English, or coherent language of some sort: “You can’t prove this tenant, who lives in a multi-unit building, ran up the water bill.”

Fair enough. But every commercial rental outfit knows the price of a unit goes up by $50 per month for each additional adult who signs the lease, and DSS will cut off a tenant who lets another adult move in with them because it’s misuse of Welfare funds. And landlords will report that, too, because the costs associated with illegal tenancy are real and damaging.

My tenant had let her boyfriend move in with her, and he told me to my face that he had been living there for 15 months without his name on the Lease and that his girlfriend shouldn’t have to pay her late fee. Fifty dollars per month may not be EXACTLY what the water bill overage costs, but it’s the accepted token fee that represents additional wear and tear and other costs resulting from the illegal tenant staying in the apartment.

I always offer to read the Lease out loud to every tenant prior to him or her signing and taking possession of a unit because the Lease is supposed to be a binding legal contract, and the following specific clauses are included in a Standard Lease Agreement for the purpose of defraying real costs incurred by a Landlord through misuse of the premises:

Paragraph 5 “The Tenant shall be jointly and severally liable for payments of Base Rent, any Additional Rent (which may include water usage surcharges for additional guests or tenants not listed in this Lease), and any other fees arising under this agreement.”

Paragraph 6: “Tenant shall pay, when due, charges for services for gas, electricity, or other utility services furnished to Leased Premises deemed to be in excess of reasonable use.”

Paragraph 8: “Landlord may apply the Security Deposit to any unpaid rent and/or late fees, unpaid utility charges, and the expense of cleaning or repairing the Leased Premises as permitted by law.”

The Legal Aid attorney, whose salary was paid by a national charity undermining the local economy, told me, “The tenant has a right to have someone live with her if she wants to.” That was a discussion we should have offered up before any reasonable judge, because she’s right, but only if the other person living there is on the Lease.

Judge Crime, getting in touch with his inner Neanderthal, refused to consider either my testimony or these basic facts in his judgment when considering the cost of my water bill overage, which was $305.54, just for water, NOT additional wear and tear. If I had charged her the appropriate illegal tenant fee of $50 per month, she would have been liable for $750, about $200 more than her security deposit. (Someone dear to that man should buy him a thighbone he can hit the desk with instead of a gavel.)

As I left the courtroom that day, I heard the Legal Aid attorney continuing a discussion with Judge Crime about me and/or my case that she appeared to have started before I got there.

There are laws against insider trading in this country. With the poor wretched logic this Legal Aid attorney employed “protecting” her erstwhile client’s “right” not to pay rent, she was clearly relying heavily on prejudicial advantages of casual routine relationship with the judges. It must grow increasingly easier with every passing year for them to see landlords as an endless parade of buffoons. Ha ha. Here comes another one, stupid enough to pay a filing fee and think that he or she has a crack at a just and reasonable hearing in Rochester City Court.

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