JAMESTOWN – Jamestown’s Department of Development is addressing renters citywide following a report this week that highlighted struggles of a family whose apartment was condemned due the landlord’s lack of upkeep.
Since the WNY News Now report, several tenants have reached out about their problematic apartments; and the fear and struggles that come with trying to fix them up.
Director of Development Crystal Surdyk says communication is key. As for addressing issues, the first step is to let the property owner know of the violations.
“We will do everything we possibly can to make sure that we’re not putting somebody out literally on the street,” said Surdyk.
Unfortunately, she says in many cases the building’s owner just doesn’t care about the homes.
“What we’ve been seeing a lot of unfortunately is property owners are saying I’m not doing anything,” explained Surdyk.
She says there are many reasons for this, ranging from monetary problems, like lack of rent payments, to simply not wanting to fix up the property. When this roadblock is hit, most cases end up going to court, which can be a lengthy process.
“As far as the tenant landlord issues that now have unfolded, that’s where Law New York and legal aid can come in and help that family hold him accountable as well,” said Surdyk.
This week, Gerald Bay and Ashley Vincent’s apartment of seven years was condemned. Speaking exclusively with WNY News Now, the pair warned potential renters in the area to be cautious when finding a place to live.
“Be careful who you rent from,” stated Vincent. “Especially in Jamestown, because you don’t know who you’re going to get as a landlord.”
More than anything, the DOD wants tenants to know their rights and to be safe.
“You do have rights,” explained Surdyk “And everyone has the right to live in a safe property that is not posing a hazard to your life, and your health, and your family’s well being.”
For tenants struggling right now, Surdyk urges them to visit the city’s website where several helpful resources are posted. Those with questions can also call the Department of Development directly for one-on-one assistance.