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Goodell opposes receivership expansion

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, expresses his disagreement legislation that would expand receivership of direlict properties statewide.

State legislation that would allow direlict properties to be placed into receivership in some areas of the state could soon cover the entire state.

Members of the state Assembly passed A.966, a chapter amendment to legislation signed into law in 2022, by a 92-51 vote. A companion amendment in the state Senate (S.1341) is on the Senate floor calendar for debate and likely passage in the coming days. The chapter amendment lengthens the effective date an additional three months while changing the new law’s scope from certain counties to cover municipalities statewide.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, both voted against the legislation in the Assembly. Goodell voted against the original bill, which allows tenants whose landlords aren’t fixing issues quickly enough to have a building placed into receivership. The receiver then would collect rents and make repairs to the property. Goodell argued on the Assembly floor on Monday that the amendments didn’t change issues he raised during the 2022 debate and, in his opinion, made the legislation worse. The person administering the property after it is placed into receivership collects all the rent, can take a portion of the rent as payment to oversee the property and isn’t required to consult the property owner on the scope of repairs. At the same time, Goodell said, the property owner is required to pay the mortgage without being able to collect any of the rent. The receiver also is exempt from legal liability for injuries that occur while the property is under receivership. The landlord still holds all legal liability in those circumstances.

“Once again we’re faced with an original bill that was horrifically unfair to landlords,” Goodell said. “Rather than correct those glaring concerns the chapter amendment expands the scope of these unfair provisions to every municipality in the state. For that reason I will not be supporting it.”

Assemblyman John McDonald, D-Albany, sponsored the amendment and said too often, property owners and landlords are unresponsive to court proceedings, which leaves receivership as an option to address neighborhood nuisance issues as well as unsafe conditions. During floor debate with Goodell on Monday, McDonald said landlords or property owners shouldn’t be surprised when a property eventually winds up in receivership.

“Let’s be very clear,” McDonald said. “The owner, by the time this receivership goes into action, had plenty of opportunity to do an awful lot of fthings to repair the building and more than likely, due to the lack of response, is what got us in this position in the first place.”

The Assembly also passed a technical amendment (A.983) Monday by a 92-51 vote amending legislation signed into law in 2022 to allow tenants to bring a summary proceeding against a landlord in a city, district, and/or justice court to give tenants increased access to the courts to take action against a bad landlord without fear of retaliatory action. The legislation is intended to give judges broad discretion in fashioning appropriate relief for tenants.

Companion legislation is also on the Senate floor calendar for discussion.

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