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Council Weighs Mandating Criminal Background Checks for City Landlords and Tenants

By Fox 40 Staff.
City Council is considering making criminal background checks mandatory for all Binghamton landlords and tenants as part of an effort to tackle blight and crime.

Giovanni Scaringi says, "Crime leads to blighted properties, blighted properties lead to dangerous neighborhoods and communities. Dangerous neighborhoods and communities lead to lower resale values and property values of people's homes."

Former First Ward Councilman Tony Massar pitched the idea at Monday's work session.

"The first priority of government is the safety of its residents," he said. "The safety of the many outweigh the inconvenience of the few."

Massar said the the checks would give more protection to landlords like Lisa Davis, who rents apartments from her home on Merill Street.

"I want to make sure I don't have trouble with another tenant," she said.

"I want to make sure I have someone that's not a serious criminal, that's going to be in and out of jail, someone that's not lying to me."

Davis said she has learned the hard way after she said a tenant lied about being a BU student.

She also said she found out he had a criminal record.

"After he was here a few weeks ago, he disappeared and his sister called me a month later and said, 'Oh well he got picked up and he's in jail here in New York City because he's had a lot of crime.'"

The idea is still drawing some criticism from other members of council.

"People who have a record, they need a place to live too," said Conrad Taylor.

If passed, the city clerk would maintain the information.

Landlords would be responsible for making sure the background checks are conducted.

City Council is expected to look at the issue again at next Monday's work session.