Central Maine Landlords Fighting Back
A group of landlords in central Maine say they’ve had enough of laws they say unfairly favor tenants. They’re hoping lawmakers will help them level the playing field.Augusta landlord Duke Dulac says he found his property trashed after the tenant living here finally moved out after not paying rent for 6 months.Aside from the mess, the front door had been ripped off and the thermostat turned up, burning off the heating oil left in the tank. “Plus I don’t know what happened to the refrigerator that was here before she left. Well it was here.”It’s cases like this that have landlords asking for lawmakers help. Folks like Dulac say the laws are skewed to favor tenants. “Oh yeah, we’re the villains and they’re the angels. We come down on them,” Dulac says mockingly.One of the proposed laws would streamline the eviction process to make it faster and less expensive to get someone out who’s not paying rent. “They tend to linger a lot better if they got you and you have to go get an eviction notice which I did,” Dulac says. “30 days and then I went on from there and it just continues on and on.”Ramona Venskus is a landlord and on the Board of Directors at Capital Area Housing Association. “I think they’ve always favored the tenants and it’s time that we take a firm stand and try to get some of these laws repealed,” Venskus says. “If we don’t, the landlords will be going out of business.”Patricia Ender is a lawyer who represents tenants in cases like this. “Now there’s always room for improvement, but I don’t think it’s lopsided one way or the other,” she says. According to Ender, by law, a landlord can have a tenant out in less than a month for non-payment of rent. She says if it takes longer, it’s the landlords fault. “If the landlord is making mistakes, we can’t just tell our clients too bad.”Ender says landlords should get a lawyer to help. “Doing an eviction case by an attorney is not that expensive. It’s not that complicated for an attorney who knows what they’re doing.” Dulac says it will cost thousands of dollars to get his damaged property ready to rent again, plus the expense of the eviction process. While his former tenant just walks away.Some of the other major landlord complaints they hope lawmakers will help revolve around the cost of radon testing and the elimination of bed bugs.