What Good is an Unenforced Law?

May 24, 2011 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City Council is leaning toward passing a new ordinance that would require all landlords—rather than the current subset—to be responsible for trash pick-up at rental properties. That sounds reasonable enough. But oddly, the City is going around advertising that they don’t plan to enforce the law. That’s ... odd.

Or rather it’s troubling. The general idea isn’t so awful. The City doesn’t want to harm landlords who have already signed leases with tenants under the assumption that the tenants are responsible for trash pick-up. By the strict letter of the law, the landlords would have to eat the cost of trash pick-up until they could get a fresh lease signed. The City’s position is that they’ll only go after landlords if their tenants are deadbeats. Fair enough.

Yet it invites trouble that’s really not necessary. It puts landlords in conflict with tenants who know the new law and therefore refuse to pay for trash pick-up. That, in turn, creates headaches for the City, which has to come in and be the enforcer. The law creates confusion on its own; the City’s stated intent to perform patchwork enforcement is even more confusing. Since we’re dealing with less-than-stellar tenants and landlords, confusion is not going to turn out well for the community as a whole.

The matter could be resolved fairly simply, if imperfectly, by amending the ordinance so that landlords become responsible for trash on leases signed on or after the date the law goes into effect. To prevent shenanigans, the amendment may state that the law applies to everyone—regardless of lease terms—on a date 6, 12, 15, 18, or even 24 months after the law’s effective date. The downside, of course, is that we have to wait a little longer for some of these issues to be sorted out.

Am I on the right track?

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The Comments

Errandbug Restaurant Delivery May 24, 2011 at 5:05pm

I remember the quotes in the LJS about the porch couch thing.  Basically said the exact same thing…we will not enforce this unless someone complains type of thing.  So basically unless someone in the neighborhood reports your building and raises holy hell…then you will have to clean it up.  So basically the same thing.

I am not sure why we have to have all these silly laws.  If you are going to complain about it all day long about being dirty…maybe call the landlord and offer to just meet him there and help clean up the mess. 

I have cleaned up the empty lots around my house several times since I have lived there.  Quit complaining about how messy it is and just go help and be the awesome neighbor that mans up and does things around the hood!

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