Schenectady landlord Edward Kahn has defied the city every step of the way in its effort to get him to comply with a variety of laws aimed at keeping his Swan Street apartment building up to code, so it’s hardly inappropriate that he’s being sent to jail for his overt scofflawism. One can only hope that the case will bolster the city’s campaign to get other recalcitrant landlords to comply.
In fact, it seems Kahn got off pretty easy: His first mistake was in renting out apartments that were essentially uninhabitable, with leaky pipes, holes in ceilings and walls, electrical issues, broken windows, etc. They never would have passed muster with a city code enforcement inspector, and he knew it — which is probably why he ignored the decades-old city law requiring landlords to get their apartments inspected by the city every time they rent to new tenants.
Schenectady landlords have ignored such code violations in the past and gotten away with it, just as they’ve ignored the rental inspection requirement — and gotten away with it. Not any more, Mayor Gary McCarthy has been letting them know, in no uncertain terms. And now they know he means it.
Kahn also ignored an $85,000 fine levied against him in June, after he was convicted of more than 200 code violations — another miscalculation on his part. So it was hardly surprising that City Court Judge Mark Blanchfield sentenced him to jail when he appeared there Tuesday. But not only did Blanchfield go easy on the length of incarceration — seven days, when 90 would have been possible — he reduced Kahn’s fine to just $50,000.
Perhaps because of Kahn’s age (73), a little lenience was in order. He says he’ll turn himself in Monday to begin serving his time. We hope he pays the remaining part of his fine soon, and that Blanchfield comes down on him with more jail time if he doesn’t.
It’s bad enough when such predators ignore the laws and exploit people so ignorant or impoverished that they don’t know, or dare, to complain. But when they thumb their noses at the courts as well, attention must be paid.