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Letter to an Absentee Landlord

Letter to an Absentee Landlord

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Published by Denise McVea
Writer and Community Advocate Denise McVea pens a smartly worded letter to an absentee landlord about problems at his rental property near her house.
Writer and Community Advocate Denise McVea pens a smartly worded letter to an absentee landlord about problems at his rental property near her house.

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Published by: Denise McVea on Feb 22, 2013
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03/18/2013

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February 21, 2013Property Owner DURAZNO LLCPO BOX 1208KINGSLAND, TX 78639-1208Dear (Absentee Landlord):This letter is a formal complaint against your duplex rental property located at WyomingStreet, San Antonio, Texas. As your neighbor, I have tried on numerous occasions toresolve the persistent issues related to that property with your office, your manager, your tenants, their subtenants and their guests, but have been unsuccessful. It is my hope thatthis letter serves to alert you and the authorities to the problems of that property, whichcontinue to have a negative effect on the neighborhood in which it is located.
Noise Ordinance
The tenants in both units of the property continue to violate municipal ordinances on adaily basis. The San Antonio police have responded to numerous complaints regarding
excessive noise, usually caused by the young male occupants’ habit of playing high
-basehip hop music from their cars parked in the driveway and in front of the house. There isconstant traffic of vehicles, all playing the same booming, thumping music, descending atall hours of the day and night. The noise reaches every corner of the inside of my home.As I work from my home office, I am unable to escape this annoyance and have lostvaluable work hours to this distraction. It has negatively impacted my enjoyment of myown home in a profound way.
Overcrowding
The house at Wyoming Street is overcrowded. The current real occupancy exceeds eventhe most liberal occupancy limits and that overcrowding contributes to and creates other  problems for other residents of the area. For instance, the overcrowding causes the adultmales of the house at Wyoming Street to convene outdoors and because their music is played outdoors in their vehicles, we lose the buffering qualities that exist when people play their own music in their own homes. Secondly, the amount of garbage generatedfrom that many people living in such a small place exceeds the capacity of the cityreceptacles provided for that property. Garbage and debris from that home invariably
spill over into other people’s yards and empty lots, causing the entire neighborhood to
look unkempt. Third, there is not enough parking for the vehicles of the tenants. As aresult, tenants park their cars on the yard
’s grass, creating a fire hazard and again
detracting from the general appearance of the neighborhood. It is against city ordinancesto park vehicles in the grass.
Fire Hazards
The house is a prime candidate for fire. Studies show that overcrowding conditions insocioeconomically disadvantaged households correlate directly to enhanced fire risks.Given that the house is overcrowded, is home to several smokers, is a wood-framed
 
house located next to other wood-framed structures, and various social pathologies can beidentified there, the house poses a fire risk to all of the homes in its vicinity. At the sametime, at least one person in the home is confined to a wheelchair, which makes mitigatingthese dangerous factors of the utmost importance. It is very unsettling living next to atinderbox.
Housing Authority
As I am aware, the property is licensed with the San Antonio Housing Authority as aSection 8 property. Section 8 properties are supposed to be managed under a high
standard “in order to provide fo
r decent, safe and sanitary conditions in all subsidized
homes.” It is also important to make sure that the Section 8 program is not perceived as a
detriment to any neighborhood. At the same time, SAHA itself has occupancy limits based on the approved family members eligible to live in a Section 8 property. Thoselimits are being violated at the house on Wyoming. I know of several people who havecomplained to SAHA about this and who are becoming quite committed to taking SAHAto task for allowing these sorts of living conditions in a Section 8 property. It was never the intention of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to bring downthe living conditions of the neighborhoods where HUD-funded housing exists, and everyeffort should be made to ensure that that is not the outcome. Additionally, the HUDInspector General considers it a fraud to have people not on the lease living at a HUD-funded property.
Drug Activity
I have personally witnessed visitors to the property smoking marijuana on the front lawn.This is criminal activity to which any landlord should have a no-tolerance policy.Particularly galling is that the people I have seen smoking marijuana on the property donot
 – 
or should not- live at the property. Drug dealing and other criminal activity
contributes to a neighborhood’s vulnerability and has a detrimental impact on theresidents’ quality of life and well
-being. When a particular property is the source of repeated criminal activity, and the owner has failed to take reasonable steps to stop theactivity, a nuisance abatement lawsuit can be initiated against the property owner. Under federal RICO laws, a property linked to federal drug crimes can actually be confiscated by the government. You may not live in this neighborhood, but you
can
be heldresponsible for what happens here.
Conclusion
 None of the people who live at Wyoming Street are bad people and it is not my intentionto denigrate them in anyway. But at the end of the day, I own my home, and havecontinued to make substantial investments in it. I love my neighborhood and haveinvested thousands of hours to improving its livability. Many, many residents work tirelessly to improve the neighborhood in a myriad of ways and continue to work closelywith various city agencies to affect that change, from the code enforcement department tothe SAPD. Many people are moving to the neighborhood because of its historic nature,charming old homes, proximity to the Alamo and the Riverwalk, and the incredible viewsof downtown San Antonio. They want a neighborhood that is quiet, safe, and clean, justlike the one you are living in now.

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