If Schenectady landlords were a generally responsive bunch, there’d probably be little need for the apartment inspection program the city instituted decades ago. But the program was needed to address code violations the landlords ignored, and now it needs the compliance crackdown the city is threatening because, for decades, the program itself has been ignored. City officials need to carry out their threat, or Schenectady’s rental housing stock will continue to decline and the attitude of its landlords will never change.
A story in Monday’s Gazette offered little hope for optimism: It indicated that the number of landlords who’ve responded to a recent letter from the building inspector, asking for permission to inspect their rental property, is roughly two in 10 — basically the same, unacceptably low percentage that has participated in the program all along.
The city has tried all sorts of carrots and sticks in the past, from tinkering with the price of inspections to pushing for heftier code violation fines when landlords have also ignored inspection requirements. But the biggest problem seems to have been a lack of enforcement follow-through.
It remains to be seen whether the law department and current building inspector have the will to persevere, but so far, they seem to be making the right noises. We hope they stick to it, and stick it to any landlords who refuse to comply.