Schenectady County

Scotia’s rowdy tenant law worries group

Domestic violence prevention advocates are asking Scotia to amend a law passed last year allowing th

Domestic violence prevention advocates are asking Scotia to amend a law passed last year allowing the eviction of rowdy tenants that it says could put victims in danger.

The village passed a disruptive conduct law in November 2009 that says the third citation for misbehavior like excessive noise within a one-year period will result in an eviction.

Acting Police Chief Thomas Rush said the law came about because of a concern about the quality of life in the village.

“There was a lot of disturbances by younger individuals probably in their teens to mid-20s — noise complaints, littering, just being disruptive in the neighborhood,” he said.

Other complaints included abusive language and public urination. “Some of these absentee landlords don’t take care of their properties and address the issue with the kind of tenants they have.”

Rush said in one particular location in the village — which he did not name — issuing of tickets was nonstop.

“It was getting out of control.”

Domestic violence prevention advocate Ed Guider said the law has an unintended consequence of making domestic violence victims more fearful to call police.

“If she is aware of the law and chooses not to call the police, she may be inflicted with much more severe abuse, possibly even death, because she’s afraid to get evicted,” said Guider, who is a member of the Stand Up Guys, an advocacy group that is raising awareness about domestic violence.

Guider cited a similar law in East Rochester, where a landlord sued the village because he said he did not want to evict one of his tenants who called police twice last year to report her physically abusive ex-boyfriend.

The Schenectady County Coordinated Community Response Team on domestic violence discussed the issue at a recent meeting and then reached out to village officials, who Guider believes did not intend for the law to have this potential consequence.

“We’re hopeful that the Village Board is going to look at this,” he said.

Rush said his officers have been advised to use good discretion in citing incidents of disruptive conduct. It was not intended as a tool to go after domestic violence victims. In addition, Rush said he has the authority to review the matter to determine whether it falls in the category of disruptive conduct.

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