June 19, 2018
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Rockland issues warning to landlord about rowdy apartment

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — City officials have sent out a warning to the owner of one apartment building that has been the source of numerous complaints of bad behavior.

The owner, however, said that the problem rests with disorderly tenants and there should be a system set up to identify those people.

City Attorney Kevin Beal said one letter was mailed Friday to the owner of an apartment building at 25 Maverick St.

He said a second case is being worked on at a different location but it has yet to reach the point of receiving a warning.

Rockland’s police chief wrote in his weekly report that his department was working with the attorney concerning two “disorderly house” violations within the city.

“We’ve sent a cautionary letter; it has not yet been declared a disorderly house,” Beal said of the Maverick Street property. He said the second location was in another section of the city but did not identify the street.

The complaints at the 25 Maverick St. apartment building are about noise from late night parties. He said that there also was an altercation one time outside the building and police had to respond to detain some people to keep the peace.

The property is a two-unit apartment building, according to the city, owned by Sandra and Gordon Mank Sr.

The Rockland City Council enacted a disorderly house law in June 2003 following a series of complaints about tenants in an apartment building on State Street. Those complaints came to a head when six members of the same family were arrested on a variety of charges related to disorderly conduct.

Under the city law that resulted from that State Street issue, the city notifies landlords when there are three or more complaints originating from their property within a 30-day period. At that time, the city would contact the landlord and request a list of the tenants and copies of leases.

If police receive five or more calls within a 30-day period, the landlord could face a charge of $50 for every subsequent call.

If the council declares a house to be disorderly, the city could condemn the property.

Sandra Mank said Tuesday that she has given an eviction notice to the culprit responsible for the problem at 25 Maverick St.

Mank said, however, the city law is unfair because it targets landlords and not problem tenants.

“There must be a better way to deal with these problems. The city should keep a list of disorderly tenants,“ Mank said.

She said that some landlords will give good references in order to get rid of a bad tenant and that passes the problem on to other owners of apartment buildings. She said she checked after receiving the letter from the city and meeting with police that the problem tenant had 13 previous complaints against him at other locations.

“I’m really upset. We have these problems and Rockland has such high property taxes. We’ve been doing this for 20 to 25 years. It’s a financial loss. It’s a nightmare,” Mank said.

Police Chief Bruce Boucher said the ordinance is a good tool to get landlords to deal with problems.

Beal said he has sent out notices to landlords on three previous occasions but none have reached the point of being declared a disorderly house by the city since he has been on the job beginning in 2007.

The police chief said he recalls only one instance — when he arrived in 2005 — of an apartment building being declared a disorderly house. Eventually, the designation got the landlord’s attention and the problem was solved.

The attorney and chief both said the letters are sent so that the landlord and city official can sit down and discuss how to prevent further complaints. He said there are instances when the landlord may not be aware of problems since many do not live at the property and may not even live in the community.

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