So far, the discussion over increased inspections for Cobleskill Village rental properties has elicited a great deal of squawking from Village landlords. If Village officials are listening to and acting on these concerns, it is mainly because they (the landlords) have shown up at meetings and spoken out. For the most part, tenants, students and long-time homeowners have not done this.
Cobleskill’s tenants, whether they don’t know or don’t care, are being victimized by their own landlords who are trying to deprive them of the right to a safe and sanitary living space.
Village landlords protest the inspection fees and claim this will only be passed on to renters, about which they are correct. However, the real reason landlords want these increased inspections killed is because they see a slippery slope gradually leading to less and less of an ability to extract profit from poor and mostly ignorant tenants.
The difference between inspections every year and inspections every three years is quite significant for landlords. Maybe you want to put off making improvements until you sell the property in a year or so. Maybe you want to “cover up” violations of the law and would prefer to do this only once every three years instead of every year.
The main problem with the landlords protesting this law is that they are not landlords, but slumlords. They have short-term investments and profit interests in their properties and thus have no interest in maintaining them over the long term.
The victims here are many. First of all, the overall housing stock is only going to whither away because the slumlords just don’t care and will rent out space in any condition as long as they can get away with it. Then there are the tenants. Usually these are folks who are locked into their current housing situation due to poverty, lack of transportation options, dependence on institutions located in the Village, etc. As far as tenants go, this is a very pliant group of people, usually unlikely to complain about the little things that go unfixed.
Many of these tenants are students, who typically aren’t going to pay attention to the consequences of failure to provide basic maintenance. Landlords know this and thus know they can get away with not providing that basic maintenance.
I can understand that many homeowners in the Village do not care about the safety of students and poor people. But at least consider the spillover effects of deterioration of the housing stock. Is it not in your best long-term interests to protect the quality of the housing in your community?
Why is it that students, poor people and long-time homeowners are not down at local meetings speaking out in favor of this new inspections law? Obviously no one wants to take a stand publicly against their own landlord (or neighbor). However, the slumlords are going to get their way it seems because nobody else has come to Village meetings to speak up.
If this continues to be the case, I plead with the Mayor and Village trustees to hold their ground on this issue. Don’t let the big-mouthed slumlords get their way.