Sunday March 10, 2013

In response to and agreement with a comrade in arms, Dr. Jon Kogen ("Bad tenants have all the rights," letter, March 2.) I used to be a landlord. For 11 years I rented one and then two two-family homes in Pittsfield. Let me be the one to tell you, Dr. Kogen is in good company.

I was at the sheriff’s department in Pittsfield so often Sue and Angela and I became good friends. I still stop by to say "Hi" and chat over coffee. The officers at the court house and I were almost on a first name basis.

To say the system is "slanted" in favor of the tenant is a major understatement. My wife and I found out the hard way, as far as rights go, the landlord doesn’t have any. As soon as the door closes and "they" are in "my’’ home, my "rights" go down the toilet. I had one woman tell me state law let her have a family of six stay with her, using cots and sleeping bags, and my heat and hot water for as long as she wanted. I had a contractor as a tenant who not only destroyed the apartment but then threatened me with his "vet lawyer" (that my taxes pay for). He stole a brand new kitchen counter top, destroyed the basement and ripped up all of my carpeting. Thanks to state laws I had to be happy just to be rid of him.

I said in a letter I wrote to the editor several years ago there is a whole undercurrent of people who know how to play the game. They basically know the system well enough to steal your house from you (that was how I said it to the judge). The justice department knows this. The sheriff’s department, the police, the health department, they are all well aware of the situation. They also know and will as good as tell you that their hands are petty much tied and nothing more can be done on their end, but they understand, and if it’s all just too much for you maybe you shouldn’t be a landlord because it’s not going to change any time soon thank you very much.

I learned, again the hard way that the people I was dealing with in the courthouse, the sheriff’s department and so on were all as frustrated with the situation as I was. They didn’t want to see me lose my houses and go bankrupt, but the law is the law, and trust me when I tell you, I tried everything.

CLARK MAHONY

Lee