Patro wants to see nuisance law applied in Dundalk
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:00

Law targets landlords with bad tenants

by Ben Boehl

    For years, North Point Village Community Association (NPVCA) president Dave Patro has been trying to clean up his community. He feels he has had success, but said he occasionally comes across a roadblock:  problems with renters in North Point Village.
    Patro acknowledged that not all renters are bad, but he said he is focused on the ones having a negative impact on the community.
    He is referring to houses that, he said, get 14 to 20 police service calls a year.

“I’ve talked to other community leaders, and it seems there are always one or two houses that you cannot get any results,” he said.
    Patro has been an admirer of a Baltimore City padlock law that allows the city to close down properties that have been deemed a “public nuisance.”
    He had thought of seeking similar legislation in Baltimore County until he found that the County Council passed such an ordinance in 2010.
    The county law states that property in a community can be considered a nuisance if that “property negatively impacts the well-being of other residents of the neighborhood; and is injurious to public health, safety or welfare of neighboring residents; or  obstructs the reasonable use of other property in the neighborhood.”
    In order to be in violation, these properties must be located in a community that has a community association which is a Maryland nonprofit corporation — like NPVCA.
    “I think this would let the community know that we don’t have to tolerate it,” Patro explained. “We can cut down on the service calls.”
    Patro proposes that after a police second call to a rental unit, the landlord should be notified. After the third call, Patro believes that the courts would get involved and there is a possibility that the property could be suspended from rental registration for a year.
    Patro thinks most landlords will not let it get that far and will be more inclined to evict “troublemaking” tenants.
    “It’s up to the landlord. He can evict them if he thinks [that person] is a problem.”
    Patro’s proposal is to first try out the law in North Point Village and to pass the word along to other communities in Dundalk and throughout Baltimore County.
    In order to help spread the message, Patro is trying to become deputy director for the  North Point Police Community Relations Council (NPPCRC).             He thought about trying to take over as director of the group after longtime NPPCRC head Jim O’Toole stepped down, but said he is busy with his duties as NPVCA president and family matters.
    “My wife would kick my [butt] if I took over that position,” Patro said laughing.
    As deputy director of the NPPCRC, Patro says he would aim to set up a better network among all the Dundalk community leaders so they can share information, since many communities are facing the same problems.
    One community leader who appears to be impressed with Patro’s idea is New Norwood Holabird Community Association president John Ayres.
    He stated in an e-mail that use of the nuisance law would clean up neighborhoods and called it “a law that will work.”
    Patro also promised he would seek to establish a better line of communication with the police department and the community if he becomes NPPCRC deputy director and feels the nuisance law is the best way to start.
    “It’s refreshing, and I want to get the word out,” Patro about the law.    
    “I want people to know that I will do this. Maybe some will realize this can happen and will not cause a problem.”