Landlord cites frustration with tenant

MASSENA — A Massena landlord shared his frustration with village trustees this week about issues he has had with a tenant who can’t be evicted because of the state’s eviction moratorium.

Robert Perras said the individual had a land contract for a house, but then backed out of the contract, making him a tenant who he said has created nothing but issues.

The state currently has a moratorium on evictions until Aug. 31 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo first announced the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions in March 2020 to make sure no tenant was evicted during the height of the pandemic.

“I cannot get that gentleman out of my home and stop this nonsense. I have a $40,000 house and he can do whatever he wants to do. I don’t want to go home at night and wonder what he’s doing at my place,” Mr. Perras said.

He said not only can he not evict the individual, but he has also become responsible for bills that haven’t been paid and village code infractions racked up by the tenant.

“What I don’t understand is I don’t have any recourse on what they do over there. I’ve been in the rental business for 30 years. I want somebody to tell me when I ever went to the village board because I had a bad tenant. You’ve never seen me. I’ve always been able to finally get the individual out,” he said.

It was a different story these days, though.

“My hands are tied. During these times of COVID, it isn’t business as usual because my hands are completely tied. Anything they do over there pertaining to water, sewer and garbage comes to me. I understand COVID has screwed it all up, but it shouldn’t all be thrown on me,” he said.

Mr. Perras said he has been presented with a $1,000 water bill not paid by the tenant, and there have been code enforcement issues that had to be addressed.

“He had a pile of crap over there. The village had to go over there and clean that up. That cost me $700,” he said.

He said he would also have been cited and potentially fined for the grass being too long if he hadn’t taken care of it.

“They’re sending me all the bills that this guy is creating. I can’t stop it,” he said.

Mr. Perras said he had a suggestion if the water bill wasn’t paid.

“I’ve got a simple answer for that. Turn the water off. I don’t want the water going into my building. They can’t the turn the water off because that’s against the law. They’re telling me, ‘We’re not going to turn it off ... and you’re going to pay the bill.’ That’s extortion,” he said. “If he gets upset at me and runs the water inside the house for a month, has a couple of faucets on, that could be a $2,000 bill. If he keeps running these bills up and you don’t want to stop giving him these services, just forget (the bills). I don’t want them.”

If the water, sewer and garbage bill isn’t paid, that can be put on the property’s tax bill. And if that tax bill isn’t paid, Mr. Perras said he could lose the home.

“I lose the place on a tax bill and you guys sell it, and you guys forgive the taxes. Why not forgive the taxes before I have to sell it? It isn’t fair to me. I’m getting drowned here and it’s not right,” he said. “All I want to know is, give me a solution to get him out and I’ll pay all the bills and take care of everything. There’s no way I can get him out of that house right now.”

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