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Jacob Lefton: Amherst’s preliminary landlord regulations long way from fair

To the editor:

I am a tenant in Amherst and have been, off and on, since 2007. I am incredibly disturbed by this drafted regulation from the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group. It’s a misguided attempt to punish a few landlords and tenants, while creating problems for potentially thousands of Amherst residents. People who sit on the working group seem to think that these regulations are fair, what “reasonable people will think are reasonable.” I’m a reasonable person, and these regulations are not reasonable.

First of all, the working group consists of more than a dozen people, but no tenants sit on it. These are the residents who will be affected by the cost of permitting, unnecessary paving and other regulations, as you can bet that landlords will pass the costs down the line.

Most of the provisions and enforcement abilities in this legislation are already covered by federal and state landlord/tenant law, or can be taken up by the Zoning Board or other existing legal structures. This regulation creates unnecessary fee bureaucracy.

A comment was made by one of the committee members that if landlords were already following the law, they would have no problem, because some of these are redundant rules. Why are we coming up with rules that already exist at the state and federal level? We should be building targeted tools to deal with issues that exist in the community, rather than trying to take punitive measures against a whole population.

The working group has a long, long way to go before it produces anything close to “fair” or “reasonable.” I look forward to reading the next draft of the document, which should come as a blank sheet of paper on which we can start over.

Jacob Lefton


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