Renters’ rights when it comes to property damage – Democrat & Chronicle

Renters’ rights when it comes to property damage

by: Mary Chao

It’s complicated.

That’s what Joel Kunkler, director of landlord tenant services at The Housing Council, said of tenants’ claims when it comes to the windstorm of 2017.

“It’s not the easiest situation,” he said.

Under New York state law, landlords have to abide by a warranty of habitability, which is the expectation that the property will be in livable condition, Kunkler said. That means if a furnace breaks or a roof is leaking, the landlord has an obligation to fix it in a timely manner.

But if it is a power outage and it is up to the utility company to repair, the situation can be nebulous, he said.

“If it’s a brief interruption in service, everyone needs to hunker down and deal with it,” Kunkler said.

When you have extensive damage such as the windstorm, everyone is doing the best they can to get things back in order, said Rochester real estate attorney John Nacca, who is also a landlord. He is busy tending to properties without power to make sure the pipes do not freeze.

Landlords are charged with the legal obligation of doing everything they can to make a home livable. If a tree hit a roof, the landlord has to repair it as soon as possible. If a landlord has empty properties, the tenants may be offered the substitutions, Nacca said.

Tenants also have the right to break the lease if the home is not habitable, Kunkler said. If the property cannot be repaired in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant has the right to be released from the contract.

Lisa Schwingle, who has been renting a home in the village of Pittsford, realizes that the windstorm was an act of God. A tree fell on the roof of her rental home on Wednesday and her landlord quickly came over the next day to temporarily repair the roof before the weather changed.

“Landlord has been great and has been dealing with a lot of damage,” Schwingle said.

Tenants have the ability to buy insurance just as homeowners do, said Ron Papa, president of National Fire Adjustment, which represents policyholders. If the tenant has renters’ insurance, check to see what is covered, he suggested. Some policies may pay for incidentals such as hotels and meals out during catastrophic events, he said.

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State has $14.5 billion in unclaimed funds – The Daily Record

State has $14.5 billion in unclaimed funds

by: Daily Record Staff

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on Thursday announced that his office has over $14.5 billion in unclaimed funds and urged New Yorkers to see if any of it belongs to them.

In the state’s 2015-16  fiscal year, DiNapoli’s office set a national record for the third consecutive year for the most unclaimed funds returned in one year, totaling $452 million.

There are currently more than 35 million unclaimed funds accounts, some dating back to the 1940s. Excluding New York City, the majority of people who are owed money can be found on Long Island, where there is over $326 million in 590,983 accounts owed to Nassau County residents and over $240 million (524,316 accounts) for residents in Suffolk County.

Westchester County has over $250 million (448,529 accounts) owed to residents, followed by Erie County (over $113 million owed to 241,221 accounts) and Monroe County (over $82 million owed to 196,890 accounts).

In his annual reporton unclaimed funds, DiNapoli released regional data on the total amount of unclaimed funds paid by county in fiscal year 2015-16. Outside of New York City, DiNapoli’s office paid out the most to Long Island residents (over $58 million to 69,551 accounts), followed by the Capital-Saratoga region ($42.6 million to 15,283 accounts) and the Hudson Valley ($31.6 million to 46,478 accounts).

The majority of unclaimed funds accounts stem from old bank accounts but also include stocks, life insurance, uncashed checks and gift cards. State law requires that abandoned money or securities be transferred to the Comptroller’s office if there is no activity in an account for a period which is typically three years. DiNapoli serves as the custodian of these unclaimed funds until they’re claimed by the rightful owners.

To check on unclaimed funds, click here


Landlords empowered by Monroe County Court ruling – The Daily Record

Landlords empowered by Monroe County Court ruling

by: Bennett Loudon

A Monroe County Court judge has reversed a Rochester City Court decision, upending a longstanding canon of landlord-tenant disputes that will make it easier for property owners to get money judgments against tenants.

County Court Judge Christopher S. Ciaccio overruled City Court Judge Ellen M. Yacknin after she declined to issue a judgment for back rent against residential tenant Alice Sposato, because Sposato was not personally served with a notice in the case.

“It’s extremely significant,” said John Nacca, a Rochester attorney who often represents landlords.

“That is one of the major issues that landlords have in terms of not being able to get that judgment. It’s very important to them to do that, even if it’s not collectible,” Nacca said.

Historically, when the tenant can’t be located, leaving a summons with someone else, or “nail and mail” service has not been allowed.

Ciaccio sent the case back to Yacknin “for further proceedings including the entry of a monetary judgment and calculation of costs and fees.”

Yacknin ruled on Feb. 2, 2016, in favor of Sposato. Attorney Andrew J. Dick appealed to Ciaccio for Cornhill LLC.

With Ciaccio’s decision, substituted service is now acceptable in Monroe County. Previously, all city judges, and most town justices, followed the same rule requiring personal service.

Appeals have been rare because they don’t usually make financial sense. For example, a landlord seeking back rent of $850 would probably end up paying a lawyer more to appeal a ruling than they could recover.

“To pay a lawyer to do an appeal, which is a very tedious process, far outweighs the benefit,” Nacca said.

But there was no extra expense for Cornhill LLC because Dick is in-house counsel at Mark IV, which operates Cornhill Landing apartments.

“For him it was just all in a day’s work,” Nacca said.

Word of Ciaccio’s decision spread in the legal community on Monday.

“We’ve already put it to good use last night in Irondequoit, and today in Rochester City Court,” Nacca said.

The old rule is based on the 1929 Fourth Department case In Re McDonald.

“This McDonald case has been criticized up and down for decades now,” Dick said.

“It’s not the same thing as the Fourth Department reversing it, but it’s pretty close. This should be binding in all of Monroe County now,” he said.

The Fourth Department’s ruling in McDonald was based on statutes in the Civil Practice Act (CPA), which no longer exist. In 1963 the state Legislature enacted the Civil Practice Law and Rules to replace the (CPA).

Sposato was not represented by an attorney and never appeared in court on the case, Dick said.

Landlords empowered by Monroe County Court ruling


Monroe County announces oxygen stations for those without power

Monroe County announces oxygen stations for those without power

by: WHAM

Monroe County has setup EMS stations for residents in need of oxygen after strong winds knocked out power for thousands in the area.

Patients who have lost power and oxygen equipment functionality, and cannot reach their oxygen provider, may go to one of the following locations:

• Perinton Ambulance – 1400 Turk Hill Rd, Fairport, NY 14450

• Gates Ambulance – 1001 Elmgrove Rd, Gates, NY 14624

• Greece Ambulance – 867 Long Pond Rd, Rochester, NY 14612

Residents are encouraged to bring their oxygen equipment to the stations whenever possible. Oxygen equipment and supplies are also available for residents who do not have their own.

Residents are also encouraged to check-up on friends and family who use oxygen equipment, to confirm their safety.

If there is an emergency need, residents should call 911 to receive further information.

Ten Facts about Being Homeless in USA –

Ten Facts about Being Homeless in USA

by: Bill Quigley

Three True Stories

Renee Delisle was one of over 3500 homeless people in Santa Cruz when she found out she was pregnant.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported she was turned away from a shelter because they did not have space for her.  While other homeless people slept in cars or under culverts, Renee ended up living in an abandoned elevator shaft until her water broke.

Jerome Murdough, 56, a homeless former Marine, was arrested for trespass in New York because he was found sleeping in a public housing stairwell on a cold night.  The New York Times reported that one week later, Jerome died of hypothermia in a jail cell heated to over 100 degrees.

Paula Corb and her two daughters lost their home and have lived in their minivan for four years.  They did laundry in a church annex, went to the bathroom at gas stations, and did their studies under street lamps, according to America Tonight.

Fact One.  Over half a million people are homeless

On any given night, there are over 600,000 homeless people in the US according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Most people are either spending the night in homeless shelters or in some sort of short term transitional housing.  Slightly more than a third are living in cars, under bridges or in some other way living unsheltered.

Fact Two.  One quarter of homeless people are children

HUD reports that on any given night over 138,000 of the homeless in the US are children under the age of 18. Thousands of these homeless children are unaccompanied according to HUD.  Another federal program, No Child Left Behind, defines homeless children more broadly and includes not just those living in shelters or transitional housing but also those who are sharing the housing of other persons due to economic hardship, living in cars, parks, bus or train stations, or awaiting foster care placement.  Under this definition, the National Center for Homeless Education reported in September 2014 that local school districts reported there are over one million homeless children in public schools.

Fact Three.  Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless

Over 57,000 veterans are homeless each night.  Sixty percent of them were in shelters, the rest unsheltered.  Nearly 5000 are female.

Fact Four.  Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in women

More than 90% of homeless women are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse and escaping that abuse is a leading cause of their homelessness.

Fact Five. Many people are homeless because they cannot afford rent

The lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.  HUD has seen its budget slashed by over 50% in recent decades resulting in the loss of 10,000 units of subsidized low income housing each and every year.

Fact Six.  There are fewer places for poor people to rent than before

One eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost since 2001.  The US needs at least 7 million more affordable apartments for low income families and as a result millions of families spend more than half their monthly income on rent.

Fact Seven.  In the last few years millions have lost their homes

Over five million homes have been foreclosed on since 2008, one out of every ten homes with a mortgage.  This has caused even more people to search for affordable rental property.

Fact Eight.  The Government does not help as much as you think

There is enough public rental assistance to help about one out of every four extremely low income households.  Those who do not receive help are on multi-year waiting lists.  For example, Charlotte just opened up their applications for public housing assistance for the first time in 14 years and over 10,000 people applied.

Fact Nine.  One in five homeless people suffer from untreated severe mental illness

While about 6% of the general population suffers from severe mental illness, 20 to 25% of the homeless suffer from severe mental illness according to government studies.  Half of this population self-medicate and are at further risk of addiction and poor physical health.  A University of Pennsylvania study tracking nearly 5000 homeless people for two years discovered that investing in comprehensive health support and treatment of physical and mental illnesses is less costly than incarceration, shelter and hospital services for the untreated homeless.

Fact Ten.  Cities are increasingly making homelessness a crime

A 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found: 24% make it a city-wide crime to beg in public; 33% make it illegal to stand around or loiter anyplace in the city; 18% make it a crime to sleep anywhere in public; 43% make it illegal to sleep in your car; and 53% make it illegal to sit or lay down in particular public places.   And the number of cities criminalizing homelessness is steadily increasing.

For more information look to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the National Center for Homeless Education and the National Coalition on the Homeless.

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6 Problems Landlords Face Renting to Section 8 Tenants –

6 Problems Landlords Face Renting to Section 8 Tenants

by: Erin Eberlin

There are certain unique challenges a landlord could face when renting to a tenant with a Section 8 voucher.These problems are deal breakers for some landlords, while other landlords feel the advantages of renting to a Section 8 tenant far outweigh the disadvantages. Here are six negatives for you to consider.

6 Potential Problems Section 8 Tenants Create: 

1. Frequent Section 8 Property Inspections

2. Do Not Receive Rent Until After Tenant Moves In

3. Section 8 Does Not Pay Security Deposits

4. Wear and Tear Concerns/Possible Property Damage

5. Non-Section 8 Tenants May Not Want to Live in Building

6. Maximum Amount Section 8 Will Pay

1. Frequent Section 8 Inspections

One major issue many landlords have with the Section 8 program is how often they inspect your rental property. These inspections are performed by your local Public Housing Authority. A Section 8 inspector will come to your property once a year to carry out the inspection. Even if there has been no tenant turnover, this inspection has to be done..

The inspector is making sure your unit meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. There are 13 areas the inspector will look at to determine if the unit meets HUD’s safety and health standards. These areas include sanitary system, lead-based paint, water supply, electrical and smoke detectors.

 Each of the 13 areas must meet certain requirements. For example, the “sanitary facility” must be located in a private area of the home and must only be for the use of the occupants of the home.

It is not uncommon to fail a Section 8 inspection. An example of a hazard that could cause you to fail a Section 8 inspection would be a hot water leak in the bathroom.

 This leak could cause potential burns to the tenant.

If you do fail the inspection, you will be given a list of items that need to be fixed. Once you fix all items on the list, you can schedule a re-inspection with the Section 8 office. They will once again send the inspector to determine if all issues have been fixed.

2. Receive Rent After Tenant Move In

Another problem with Section 8 is when you will receive your first rental payment. Typically, you will not be paid by the Section 8 office until after the tenant moves into the property. Due to administrative backups, there have been cases where landlords have had to wait as many as three or four months to receive payment from Section 8. Once you receive the first payment, however, you should expect consistent payment each month.

The delay in payment is something to keep in mind when considering renting to Section 8 tenants. If you do not have the financial ability to be able to wait a couple of months to receive rent, then Section 8 may not be the right choice for you.

3. Section 8 Does Not Pay Security Deposits

Section 8 provides housing vouchers that pay the tenant’s monthly rent. These vouchers do not include an amount for the security deposit.

 If a landlord wishes to collect a security deposit, he or she has to get this deposit directly from the tenant. This could be an issue as the tenant has already shown to have income problems by being approved for a Section 8 voucher in the first place.

If they are not able to pay on their own, Section 8 tenants are often able to appeal to other agencies that will provide them with the money for the security deposit. As with any other tenant, you should never allow a Section 8 tenant to move in without first collecting a security deposit from them. The maximum amount you can collect is determined by your state security deposit limit.

4. Wear and Tear Concerns/Property Damage

Another disadvantage of renting to a Section 8 tenant is the belief that Section 8 tenants are very destructive. There have been horror stories about floors being destroyed, cabinets being pulled off the walls, toilets being cracked, garbage and filth everywhere and many more people living in the unit than are listed on the lease. Certainly, this can happen. However, these problems can happen with any tenant you rent to.

There are good Section 8 tenants and there are bad Section 8 tenants. This is why it is so important to screen all tenants, including Section 8 tenants, properly.

5. May Discourage Non-Section 8 Tenants From Living in the Building

Tenants who do not collect rental assistance may be turned off by the fact that you allow Section 8 tenants in your property. They may believe that you are a “slumlord,” that the property will be dirty or that the tenants will be disrespectful and noisy.

In these situations, the only thing you can do is make sure you place quality tenants in your property and that you keep up with property maintenance. If non-Section 8 tenants see that your property is quiet and in pristine condition, they may change their beliefs about Section 8.

6. Maximum Amount Section 8 Will Pay

The final disadvantage of renting to Section 8 tenants is that there is a maximum amount that Section 8 will pay. Each year, HUD puts together a list of Fair Market Rents for over 2,500 areas of the country. The amount that you will receive from Section 8 will be calculated using the Fair Market Rent for your area for the number of bedrooms you are renting out, such as a one bedroom or a two bedroom.

The amount of the housing voucher will be between 90 percent and 110 percent of the Fair Market Rent. Depending on the condition of your property and the Fair Market Rent HUD has calculated for your area, you may be able to rent your property for a higher amount to a non-Section 8 tenant.

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Work to begin on $50 million housing project – Rochester Business Journal

Work to begin on $50 million housing project

by: Andrea Deckert

Work is about to begin on Upper Falls Square, a $50 million affordable housing project at Cleveland Street and Hudson Avenue.

DePaul Community Services Inc. and Christa Construction LLC are working together on the project. SWBR Architecture, Engineering & Landscape Architecture P.C. designed the two buildings that have a total of 150 apartments.

DePaul President Mark Fuller said Upper Falls Square is the biggest project in terms of size and cost the agency has undertaken.

It is also a project that may not have happened in 2017, given a last-minute loss of financial backing from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which wanted to hold off on providing equity until tax rates under the new U.S. president were announced, he added.

The wait could have pushed the project back for some time, Fuller noted, but he said the help of a mix of groups kept the project on track. The group included Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who helped get the approvals in place in a timely manner, and M&T Bank Corp., which ended up providing the equity.

“It took a whole team,” Fuller said.

The project is targeted for completion by the end of 2018.

Christa CEO David Christa, who grew up near the area where the development is taking place, also credited the group effort for moving the process along, with help from state and city officials, as well as lenders.

He calls the project transformational.

“It’s a big deal for the city and one that could have been pushed into (starting) next year if not for the incredible team effort,” Christa said.

Fuller spoke with city representatives before the project began to get their feedback on where such a project should be located. The Upper Falls area was a top priority, he said, noting the area has been in need of affordable housing options.

Fuller noted the project will not only provide housing, but such projects tend to help with a drop in crime and an increase in employment rates, based on other housing projects DePaul has undertaken.

The Rev. Raymond Scott, a longtime community activist in the area and a member of DePaul’s board of directors, said the project is the cornerstone of redevelopment in that area.

“This project has created a lot of excitement,” Scott said.

In addition to DePaul efforts, Scott credited David Carr, construction manager for the Coalition of Northeast Associations, a neighborhood association representing the Upper Falls area, for the revitalization.

Other redevelopment efforts there include expanding services of the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center, a new PUC Achieve Charter School and a daycare center, Scott added.

Upper Falls Square is located on roughly 3.2 acres of vacant land that once held condemned homes until they were razed by the city.

The apartments will include studios, as well as one- and two-bedroom units.

Income requirements for 146 of the units are set at 60 percent of area median income and four units are set at 90 percent of area median income.

Roughly half of the residents will receive services under a Supported Single Room Occupancy program, which is a noncertified state Office of Mental Health program that provides long-term or permanent housing where residents can access the support services they require to live in the community.

Christa and DePaul have been doing projects together for the past 30 years.

Among them is DePaul Rochester View Apartments, the $17.6 million affordable housing apartment building for the deaf in Henrietta, and the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments, a $23.5 million affordable housing project in the city’s Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood.

DePaul recently finished an affordable housing project in West Seneca, Erie County, and has some 18 projects in the works across upstate New York, Fuller said.

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Local housing market enters 2017 with solid momentum – Rochester Business Journal

Local housing market enters 2017 with solid momentum

by: Gary Keith

Greater Rochester regional home sales have risen for six consecutive years, with 2016’s 14,278 transactions topping the all-time high set in 2005.

The 7.6 percent rise in closed sales was the strongest since 2012 and nearly double the 4 percent national average gain (Figure 1).

This positive trend reflects the slow but steady improvement in local labor market fundamentals since the end of the Great Recession.

Adjusted for inflation, aggregate payroll earnings for all private-sector workers in the Rochester area have risen 11 percent since 2009. If the hard-hit chemicals manufacturing sector is excluded, the increase in real earnings jumps to 13.8 percent, only slightly below the 16.4 percent U.S. norm.

Rising employment and income, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, is a powerful driver of housing demand. So much so that supply constraints are now a factor in the 2017 sales outlook.

The inventory of available Rochester-area homes for sale has declined from a 6.1-month supply in 2011 to an estimated 3.5 months in 2016 (Figure 2). In Monroe County, that figure is even lower, flirting with just a two-month supply—or one-third the level typically considered well-balanced based on historic sales patterns.

As one might expect with greater collective purchasing power chasing a limited supply of available properties, the median sales price of Rochester-area homes is moving higher—climbing 1.4 percent in 2016 and 10 percent since 2011.

Throw in a wild card of demographic support from a growing pool of millennial-age first-time buyers, and the near-term outlook remains upbeat.

While conventional mortgage rates are expected to increase 50 basis points by year-end, the hike should not derail overall demand—making 2017 another good year for home sales, construction and ancillary businesses tied to the real estate cycle.

Gary Keith is vice president and regional economist at M&T Bank Corp.

RHA unveils renovated homes – Rochester Business Journal

RHA unveils renovated homes

by: Anne Saunders

The Rochester Housing Authority held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for four renovated homes on Garson Avenue, near the Public Market.

The project cost $410,000, drawn from a Housing and Urban Development grant, to make improvements to both the interior and exterior of the three-bedroom townhouses at 54-66 Garson Ave. The improvements not only give the buildings a modern look, but include energy improvements such as more efficient furnaces.

“Who says public housing needs to look like public housing?” John Hill, the new executive director of the housing authority, said in a statement.

Hill began using the phrase Changing the Face of Public Housing after his hire in mid-2016. To further the initiative, the Housing Authority brought three new architect-engineering firms under contract, Lothrop Associates LLP, Konopka Architecture and the Liro Group.

In addition, RHA will be selecting a developer partner within the next 60 days and expanding its grant writing capabilities. The goal is to enhance the organization’s ability to develop larger properties and obtain alternative sources of financing,.

With 54-66 Garson Ave. completed, RHA has four other comprehensive modernization capital projects slated to begin the initial planning phases this year.

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HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development – The Daily Record

HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development

by: Frank Cania

For those who have come to expect an explanation of the latest legislative or regulatory issue to menace businesses, you will find this month’s article a departure, and hopefully an interesting departure, from the norm. Not that there aren’t a plethora of legislative and regulatory issues menacing businesses. Far from it. But, from time to time, it’s good for my brain to take a different path.

This month I’m going to focus on the incredible personal and professional benefits of volunteering. Over the last eight months I’ve had several opportunities to share “my story.” That is how I started, grew, and then almost 10 years to the day sold my company, driven HR. And as I looked back over that time I realized there were, and continue to be, two foundational elements to my success. First, the patient and enduring love of my wife, Becky, and our two children. Secondly, the incredible opportunities I’ve been afforded through my many volunteer roles. The fact that you’re reading this article is a result of my volunteer commitment to the Rochester Chapter of the National Human Resource Association (“NHRA”). By sharing my time and talents as a volunteer, I’ve received an immeasurable return on my investment.

The first step to becoming a volunteer is simply raising your hand to say, “I’d like to help.” As easy as that sounds, there are countless reasons — excuses, really — why people don’t take that first step. Let’s look at a few of the most common excuses I’ve heard recently:

  • “I’m so busy with (fill in the blank), I can’t imagine taking on one more thing!” Have you ever heard that if you want something done, ask a busy person? From the statistics I’ve read, it rings true here. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteers are most often well-educated (27%), employed (39%), parents of children 18 or younger (31%), and in their mid-30s to mid-50s (28%). Further, women are more likely to volunteer (28%) than men (22%). (Women are also 100% more likely to be busier than men, according to my wife!)
  • “The organization does such a great job with everything, and I’ve never been asked to help, so I’m sure they don’t need me.” This one is a double-edged sword for most organizations. Yes, they do a great job, but that’s often because a core group of volunteers gives a lot of their time and talents. Don’t wait for a personal invitation. Ask how you can help or offer to fill an open role.
  • “I don’t have any experience or anything special to offer.” You won’t need experience for most volunteer roles, and you do have something special to offer — you want to help.
  • “I’m shy and uncomfortable around people I don’t know.” I’ll admit, I can’t identify with this one. But, I know several people who feel this way and have still found great opportunities to volunteer. Many organizations need “behind the scenes” help.
  • “I had a bad experience once as a volunteer.” It happens. I’ve had a few bad experiences, and countless great experiences. The truth is not every volunteer organization is perfect and neither is every volunteer leader. If you had a bad experience, move past it and find a new opportunity.

With the excuses out of the way, let’s focus on just one of the many avenues available for volunteering:  professional associations. When I ask HR professionals why they volunteer with professional organizations like the Association for Talent Development (“ATD”), the Association of Workplace Investigators (“AWI”), NHRA, and SHRM, I hear many of the same reasons. To network with peers from other organizations, gain experience using a specific set of skills, increase professional knowledge, share experiences, demonstrate leadership abilities, and help sustain and grow the organization. What I seldom find are professionals who consciously recognize or consider how volunteer experiences will, more often than not, significantly enhance their professional development. Further, when I mention this point, many act as if volunteering in exchange for professional development makes the act less charitable. Not true!

HR Connection: Volunteerism a win-win source for professional development