Bangor’s New Disruptive Properties Ordinance Only Applies to Residential Property
By Rudman Winchell attorney Colin E. Howard
Last month, the Bangor city council enacted a new ordinance aimed at addressing disruptive tenants and absentee landlords of residential properties.
As the Bangor Daily reports, the ordinance comes after the city council heard from residents complaining about properties in their neighborhoods that are a constant source of disruption and complaints to the police.
The stated purpose of the new ordinance is to protect the health, safety and welfare of Bangor residents by “eliminating the proliferation of properties harboring occupants who disturb the peace and tranquility of their neighborhoods.”
However, the ordinance only applies to residential property. Commercial properties such as bars or clubs are not affected. As the Bangor Daily has reported, commercial properties in Bangor have had their own string of disruptive complaints recently. Over the course of four months last year, for example, police responded to over fifty calls at a single commercial property in Bangor.
Under the new ordinance, the Bangor police chief will notify the residential landlord the first time officers are dispatched in response to a report of disruptive activity on the property. A property with two disruptions in sixty days, three in one-hundred and twenty days, four in one-hundred and eighty days, or five in a year, will be classified as a “disruptive property.”
The ordinance defines disruptive activity as “loud music, boisterous gatherings; excessive, loud or unnecessary noises audible beyond the property line; altercations occurring on the property, such as fighting, disruptive conduct, brawling or similar activities.”
The landlord of a disruptive property must agree to a comprehensive fire-safety and code inspection.
The ordinance then requires the landlord to take reasonable measures, subject to the police chief’s approval, to address the disruptive conduct, including evictions. The landlord must enter a written agreement describing a plan to evict problematic tenants, and must initiate judicial proceedings within fourteen days.
A disruptive property landlord faces a fine of up to $1,000 if the police chief does not find that he or she has made reasonable efforts to abate and eliminate the disruptive activities. Separate fines may be assessed for each day that the landlord is not in compliance with the ordinance.
The city has stated it will help landlords prevent disruptive tenants from moving in in the first place. It may allow landlords to check whether a potential tenant has been indicted by a grand jury or been evicted in the past.
Bangor’s new ordinance is not unusual in Maine. As the Bangor Daily reports, the Rockland city council is currently considering similar rules.
The city of Bangor has not posted the ordinance on its website yet. For a copy, please email Colin Howard at CHoward@RudmanWinchell.com.