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Landlords to be held responsible

PORTHENRY-Landlords are now responsible for garbage at their apartment buildings in Moriah.

Facing a growing cost to dispose of neglected trash, the town has turned to the New York State building codes for help. The state makes property owners, including landlords, responsible for garbage disposal.

Moriah officials hope enforcement of the state code will alleviate a problem in the community. "People would call complaining about garbage piling up in their neighborhood," Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "We would have our codes enforcement officer investigate, but people won't do anything. It would become a public health issue, so the town would remove the garbage."

Scozzafava said the town has spent $8,000 since 2000 to remove trash from private residences and dispose of it.

"When you get to the point where there are rats, its stinks and it keeps piling up you have to do something," Scozzafava said. "You can't stand by and let a health hazard develop. Besides, it's not fair to the neighbors."

Most of the trash problems have been with apartments dwellers, he said.

Initially Moriah officials decided to add the trash disposal costs on to property tax bills. They learned that couldn't be done until legal remedies were exhausted. That meant hiring an attorney and going to court.

"An attorney would cost us $150-175 an hour," Scozzafava said. "It wouldn't be long before we were spending more money than we hoped to recoup."

Further investigation led Moriah officials to the state building code that requires landlords to keep trash containers at apartments and makes them responsible for disposal.

"Hopefully this will solve the problem," Scozzafava said.

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