Stephania Jimenez and Thomas Kienzler
Property owners in New Britain plan to overturn ordinances imposed by the city that would charge them fees for having too many emergency calls made to their properties and for not living within the properties they rent. City says the measures are to fight blight and close a budget gap.
Emotions ran high in New Britain, as landlords vowed to repeal some ordinances recently passed by the city, aimed at targeting blight.
“It’s not fair and I believe they’re targeting landlords,” said Karen Ouellette.
Ouellette was among the dozens of landlords who gathered in New Britain Thursday evening, to discuss their opposition to two laws.
One ordinance would charge an annual $150 fee per housing unit to landlords who don’t live within the property they’re renting.
“This is an illegal tax,” said Bob DeCosmo, President of the Connecticut Property Owner Alliance.
However, Mayor Tim O’Brien’s office argued there are too many busted up properties around the city, and the move would crackdown on deadbeat landlords.
“Tenants don’t want to live in properties that are dilapidated…and frankly, property owners who live in these neighborhoods don’t want these properties to deteriorate,” said Phil Sherwood Communications Director for Mayor O’Brien.
The other law that has landlords fired up is the so-called “hot spot” ordinance, that would charge them a few if more than 10 emergency calls are made to their properties per year. The city said it wouldn’t apply to medical or emergency situations, but the group said that new rule is unconstitutional and goes against the 1st amendment, guaranteeing free speech.
“If it’s $500 per call…you could do the math. It’s a horrible policy,” added DeCosmo.
The city said both measures target New Britain’s blight problem and also close its budget gap.
However, the Connecticut Property Owner Alliance said the issue is far from over.
“We are trying to get this overturned,” said DeCosmo.
The group is planning to rally next week during the city’s council meeting on Wednesday.