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Are landlords responsible for tenants not following COVID-19 precautions? Niagara Falls says yes.

Posted at 11:22 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 23:22:12-04

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Landlords in Niagara Falls have a new responsibility, making sure their tenants are following New York State COVID-19 mandates, this includes mask wearing, social distancing, and capacity limits on gatherings. Mayor Robert Restaino said the city sent landlords the following letter last week.

“What I don’t want is, I don’t want landlords to be surprised by the fact that they may end up being held accountable for an event that happened at their location,” Restaino said.

He said the city is carrying out the state's COVID-19 executive orders.

“The executive order is holding us all responsible, in local government, to make sure these things aren’t going on," Restaino said. "We are asking property owners to help us, and to the extent that they see these things in their locations, they need to report them and do something about it.”

He said landlords should not break up gatherings themselves, and instead report any violations to the NY Pause hotline so local law enforcement can respond.

One Niagara Falls landlord, who wishes to remain anonymous, called the city's request "virtually impossible."

"We're not there in the evenings on a Saturday night to know exactly how many people they had visiting," she said.

She said she already sent letters to tenants outlining COVID-19 precautions, and checks on the two-family property often. Now, she said she'll send a letter again, but does not know what could be done past that because she does not live at the property.

Another landlord tells 7 Eyewitness News he wasn't surprised to receive the letter, and believes the city is just reiterating what's expected of property owners. He said the only way he could realistically learn of health violations is if a resident reports it.

According to the letter sent to landlords. the fines for violating NYS Public Health Law can range from $2,000-$`10,000.