A Database of Slumlords

City Councilman James Vacca introduced a bill recently that would establish a single database for all properties in New York City. It's purpose, according to the New York Daily News, would be to "monitor the quality of life in neighborhoods across the five boroughs."

The database, which would most likely live on the big bad internet, would essentially evolve to become a tool for tracking negligent landlords, thereby empowering the city's residents against hoards of slumlords, dumblords, and the non-existent property managers. Landlord monitoring sites have existed for years online, but never before has a city-wide agency embraced such monitoring technology with the potential to focus on landlord-tenant relationships.

Sites such as RateMyLandlord.com, Landlord Review, and NeuLandlord all promise to help expose bad landlords, with user participation. None have really gone mainstream, leaving scant databases of little help to residents of cities with a large population of landlords. While the legislation in city council currently focuses on monitoring outstanding violations, fines, ownership and tax history, that information could easily relay a landlord's style of management.

Vacca explained to the post, "Often, we find that owners who have building violations also make bad landlords. They often don't pay their taxes on time and often don't clean up graffiti, so creating a one-stop search engine of all dealings with the city empowers local communities, as well as city agencies, to identify problem spots and bring their owners to task."

I've already got some ideas of who I would try and add to the system.

I've lost thousands of dollars in security deposits after moving out of apartments, and I swear I'm a cleaner! One past landlord of mine said I broke her piano, TV, stole her cups(!), and broke her fridge. Every claim she made was untrue, eeeeexcept the fridge, that was a mistake on my part. I punctured one of the coolant pipes after trying to break up some freezer ice with a steak knife (not a good idea).

The News reports that the cost and timing for the bill isn't yet clear, but Vacca is working on building support in the Council. And this isn't new territory for the Councilman from the Bronx either: "Vacca, who searches the Buildings Department Web site every day to monitor construction projects in his Bronx district, has been a leading advocate for increasing access to public information."

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