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New law goes after landlords with tenants that cause chronic trouble
Absentee landlords who don’t manage their rental homes in a responsible manner creating chronic nuisances in Manteca neighborhoods may soon have to pay a price for their inattentiveness.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is considering adopting an ordinance dubbed “Responsible Property Ownership.” In a nutshell, the ordinance holds all property owners liable for civil penalties and criminal charges if they create chronic problems for their neighborhoods.

Police Chief Dave Bricker noted city staff is taking the step in view of the increasing number of rental properties in Manteca as the result of out-of-town investors snapping up foreclosed homes.

“The ordinance is aimed at all property owners but the biggest problems we have are with out-of-town landlords,” Bricker said
The police chief rattled off a number of local landlords, noting virtually everyone complies promptly with police concerns plus adequately screen tenants.

The ordinance is not being aimed at locations where there are one or two minor incidents in a year. Instead, it is seeking to address chronic problems. Bricker pointed out in 2009 that was one Manteca residence that generated 58 calls for police services and one small apartment complex that generated 117 calls for service. Both are owned by out-of-town landlords.

“Most property owners are responsible in how they manage their properties,” Bricker noted in a memo to the council. “Responsible property owners monitor their property and take appropriate and reasonable action to prevent or address behaviors or activities occurring on their property that contribute to crime or create public nuisances. A property owner that fails to take this action threatens the health, safety, and welfare of the neighborhood and the city as a whole, and it is necessary for the city to be able to undertake administrative or judicial action.”

The ordinance creates a mechanism for going after safety violations.

Safety violations in the ordinance are defined as:

•evidence of illegal manufacturer, cultivation, sale, use, or possession of controlled substances or illegal drugs using the bench mark of the arrest of one or more persons at a specific address.

•any drug-related nuisance occurring within a year of an arrest of the premises for a safety violation defined in the first point.

•any act of prostitution.

•any gang-related crime.

•the unlawful possession, discharging or brandishing of a firearm or a weapon by any person.

•violent crime acts, whether or not a criminal case has been filed, including but not limited to rape, attempted rape, robbery, battery, homicide, shootings, kidnapping, or arson.
•disturbances occurring at parties where alcohol and drugs are consumed and/or crimes have occurred.

•allowing the occupancy load to exceed state allowable levels when alcohol and/or drugs are being consumed or are accessible to the gathering.

Each violation will be treated as a separate incident and subject to a separate fine of up to $1,000 if it is pursued as a misdemeanor or up to $500 if it is pursued as a safety violation. If it is a safety violation, then the party will be held liable for any municipal administrative costs incurred by the enforcement of the ordinance.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.