Tenant union calls for Housing Court in Rochester

Jan 8, 2018

Apartment complex at 960 Dewey Avenue with broken windows, no heat or hot water
Credit Alex Crichton

A group called the City-Wide Tenants Union of Rochester says many renters are living in deplorable conditions, and that's one reason a Housing Court is needed for the city of Rochester.

Tenant Union President at Southview Towers, Kawanais Smith, says with no heat, people are freezing in her building.

She says after an article appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle about the conditions there, Landsman Development did start making repairs, but she says a full renovation of the building is what is really needed.

And that's where a Housing Court could come into play.

"We could actually take them to court and have them repair our buildings," she said.

There are similar conditions at an apartment complex at 960 Dewey Avenue, where tenants are trying to cope with no heat or hot water.

Jesus Miranda says he has to shower at a friend's house before going to work

That's where Jesus Miranda lives.

"They need heat, they need hot water, they need to cook.  Nobody can cook right now in the building, unless you have a microwave, but that's it," he says.

Ryan Acuff with the City-Wide Tenant Union says a Housing Court is needed in Rochester because while landlords can take tenants to court for not paying rent, there's no process for tenants to take landlords to court to get necessary repairs.

"We really need this to be passed on the state level, that would allow it to come and it would give tenants expanded rights. Tenants need the power to take their landlords to court," he said.

Acuff says if the governor doesn't take action on this, his group will be working with lawmakers to craft legislation to create a Housing Court in Rochester.