On Thursday, Feb. 28 the Landlord-Tenant Relations Council (LTRC) held a meeting open to the public in the Student Union Building at SUNY New Paltz in order to improve relations and settle disputes between landlords and tenants.
The event was held at 7 p.m. and organized by the LTRC, the offices of Student Activities and Student Affairs at SUNY New Paltz and the non-partisan student organization, Democracy Matters. The LTRC advises, counsels, mediates disputes and aims to improve relations between landlords and tenants in the Village of New Paltz. The LTRC decided to hold their February meeting on the campus to teach current student tenants and future student tenants about their rights and responsibilities as tenants.
The LTRC is made up of seven members, three tenant representatives, three landlord representatives and one impartial member.
At the event, the LTRC presented an overview of the rights and responsibilities of tenants, dispute prevention strategies and what to do when a dispute occurs.
The LTRC Chair Robin Ward said that the biggest issue the LTRC comes across the most is landlords not returning the tenant’s security deposit or only returning a portion of the deposit without proper documentation of the damages.
“This is especially challenging for student renters, as many of them come to New Paltz from great distances and have already returned home by the time they realize their money has been withheld; it’s not easy to take a landlord to local small claims court if the former tenant is already back in another country,” Ward said. “The recently updated local law about security deposits provides very specific guidelines about when security deposits must be returned.”
According to local village law, if a landlord wrongfully withholds all or a portion of the security deposit after the 21-day due date within a tenant moving out, a court may award the tenant up to triple the amount of the portion of the security deposit that was withheld.
“The town is now currently considering the same law so that it is on the books before tenants move out after the spring semester,” said Deputy Major KT Tobin.
A fourth-year anthropology major and tenant of the New Paltz Village who would like to remain anonymous, described her issues with renting. She has issues with communicating with her landlord in regards to the “24-hour” rule, meaning that her landlord does not give notice coming in and giving tours of her house at least 24-hours beforehand, and instead she is notified the day of the tour.
In addition, her lease states someone is supposed to plow her driveway, however, she said her driveway has not been plowed in weeks and this is very difficult for her now because she sprained her ankle and is currently on crutches.
“It’s just that for the money we’re spending to live off campus, there isn’t much care being put back into the house,” she said. “I do love having privacy and my own room, but our landlords don’t give us any respect.”
After the February meeting, the LTRC decided to hold every other meeting at the SUNY New Paltz campus and they meet on the fourth Thursday of every month. Their next meeting at village hall will be held on March 28 and the April 25 meeting will take place on campus.