Mayor’s proposed landlord-tenant law facing the heat

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana is facing heat as he prepares to introduce an ordinance requiring those who rent and their landlords to register by providing proof of their identities and residency with the city Codes Department.

During a public safety committee meeting Tuesday, questions were presented to Campana by those on the committee. Council has not viewed the proposed ordinance that remains in draft form and is being reviewed by solicitor Norman Lubin.

“Where’s the information to be kept on the tenant registration and rental properties and is the information required going to be subject to the state Right to Know law?” asked Councilman Don Noviello.

Noviello and others on council confirmed they are starting to hear from the community, even before they have viewed the proposed legislation.

At least one city landlord who wrote a letter to council believes security of private information collected at City Hall can’t remain failsafe in a technically savvy society.

“Do not be so naive to believe that in this day and age of high-tech computer hackers that anything stored in a city computer is safe,” said John J. Albarano II, whose company has built more than 5,000 apartments during the past 20 years. “No matter how hard you protect the data, all an employee needs to do is insert a memory stick and copy all the data in a matter of seconds and walk out the door.”

Police Capt. Timothy Miller, who is researching other communities that have similar registration laws in place, said he, too, has “great concern” about the security of information required to verify residency and prove identity and that it not be subject to access under state law.

Miller said the intention of the proposed ordinance is not to collect Social Security numbers but to make sure renters can verify and prove who they say they are.

“We believe it will be protected, but that’s not to say we won’t be challenged, but we believe we can overcome those challenges,” Miller said.

“As a father of four daughters I will ensure that victims of domestic violence will be protected under this ordinance,” Campana said. “I detest domestic violence and want to see this ordinance pass to make our city safer.”

“Every ordinance that goes before council is researched by one of our solicitors,” said Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith who, too, is upset by what he called premature casting of stones on an ordinance that has yet to be read by council.

The proposed ordinance is not on council’s agenda for Thursday and it won’t be presented to the committee until it is ready, Smith said.