Rockland council seeks to target rowdy tenants with law change

Posted Jan. 08, 2013, at 8:48 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland City Council will consider changes to its disorderly house law to make it easier for police to deal with rowdy residents.

City councilors met Monday night with Police Chief Bruce Boucher to discuss proposed changes to the existing law.

Mayor William Clayton said he was not looking to penalize landlords but to help residents who live next to problem residences.

Rockland has a disorderly house ordinance since June 2003 when a series of complaints arose about tenants in an apartment building on State Street. Those complaints culminated with the arrest of six members of the same family on a variety of charges related to disorderly conduct.

The current law requires that landlords be notified when there are three or more complaints originating from their properties within a 30-day period.

The city would then request a list of 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.

Clayton said he wanted a law with more teeth.

Police Chief Bruce Boucher said that in his seven years with the department, he has had to use the law only three times and at no point did the matter go to court. He said landlords are cooperative when they are notified of problems.

But councilors voiced concern that the current law is inadequate in that it resets the clock on offenses after 30 days.

The proposed changes would allow for the city to act if there are three complaints in a 60-day period or 10 or more complaints in the past year.

A preliminary vote on the ordinance change will be held Monday night. If approved, a formal public hearing and final vote would be taken in February and the law would become effective in mid-March.

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