1 October 2018
Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood
Office of the Attorney General
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Madam Attorney General:
I was the victim of a crime over the weekend. The local police are handling the crime in a manner I find confusing. I present this information to you in order to discover whether I am mistaken, in which case I will advocate for new laws or whether I am correct in which case I need guidance on what to do next.
In October 2017, I moved into 4817 Clinton Road, Clark Mills, First floor right. Kimberly Balch was already living there. She wanted to lessen some expenses. She notified her landlord that I was moving in and he gave the ok. I immediately switched billing and mailing addresses.
While living there, I discovered Mr. Dwyer like to take shortcuts around rules. He caused another tenant to garner and incredibly expensive electric bill due to a shared meter scheme. He rented the second floor of the property on a weekly basis without a proper zoning variance, addition of a fire escape, or certificate of occupancy. However, I was happy and the rent was inexpensive so I looked the other way.
At no time were we ever behind in rent. In fact, normally we were ahead. Such was the case when we paid half of our September rent on or about August 14th, 2018.
In late August, a pipe developed a leak above our hallway. Upon viewing the damage, Mr. Dwyer said, “You have to leave now”. No offer to restore the $312.50 he already collected for September. No notice. My housemate “begged him” for a notice and then this pattern of behavior began: https://livezombielandlord.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/how-dustin-dwyer-likes-to-talk-to-people/
Immediately, I came to the conclusion that the 30 day notice failed under section 223-B. The Landlord had unlicensed work on the property. It failed. He did not want to pay for licensed work. I had written Codes: https://livezombielandlord.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/you-turned-off-the-hot-water/ in accordance with statute. Mr. Dwyer was retaliating and later admitted the same to my housemate.
My experience with the Building Inspector was less than satisfactory. He allowed Mr. Dwyer to play clock ball. In fact, even though he issued a 7 day order, he never followed up on it. When I left the property on 28 September, more on that in a minute, I still did not have hot water. That is a full 30 days later. Worse, all landlords now know in Kirkland, if you run into a codes issue, just issue a 30 day letter and the Building Inspector will play along.
I realized right away the Building Inspector was not on the up and up when he sent me an email including this language: I will have several questions such as, do you have a lease, if so does it explain reasons for termination, time frames, landlord tenant responsibilities, methods to inform landlord of issues etc. My enforcement powers are dictated by the International Property Maintenance Code NOT the NY Tenants Rights document.
Therefore getting ready for a possible battle, I sent in a FOIL. My plan is simple. Force the hot water issue if I can. Once changed, then leave. If I cannot and have to leave first, make sure everyone who has followed the rules knows that Mr. Dwyer, thanks to the Building Inspector’s help, does not. You can read the FOIL here: https://livezombielandlord.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/permits-i-dont-need-no-stinkin-permits/
On September 21st, my housemate moved most of her stuff out but in no way had we vacated. On September 26th, I tried to change the electricity bill and gas bill from my former housemate’s name into mine. That is when I discovered the shared metering issue. In the past, Mr. Dwyer had put all the upstairs weekly rentals on the same meter as the apartment his son is in now. A woman named Jessica used to live there. Thanks to this scheme, she woke up with an $800 electric bill one morning. National Grid opened up a case looking into Mr. Dwyer’s activities. This is why the outside door to where the meters are is padlocked and Mr. Dwyer panics even if National Grid wants to go down there. Again, there is no way the Building Inspector did not know this is going on.
That brings us to the fateful morning on September 28th. I woke up at 6 am and the power was out. I called National Grid and they said they had not turned it off. Since the breakers are padlocked only a person with a key could get down there which meant Mr. Dwyer, or one of his employees – because he often does not pay people he runs through a lot of those – had done something to shut the power off.
I went to work. After work, my housemate wanted to get more things out of the apartment we had not vacated. When we returned to the house, someone had installed a lock on the front door. We immediately called the Kirkland Police. This was obviously done by Mr. Dwyer, except to the Kirkland Police.
Apparently in the mind of the Kirkland Police, there is a creature running around known as the “Lockmeister”. The Lockmeister goes from building to building locking people out. People should live in fear because you never know when the Lockmeister will strike next.
After attempting to contact Mr. Dwyer in numerous ways, Kirkland Police Office Masca obtained a hammer. He gave me the hammer, walked down the steps, turned away from the property and said “go ahead”. My friend took pictures as I destroyed two planes of glass on the door, I tried to do it with one but the lock was setup for a key on both sides – a known Lockmeister trait, and let myself in.
The Police left. When I walked in, I discovered that $700 worth of clothing, various bathroom items, and my laptop were missing. The laptop was especially worrisome for two reasons.
First, I am a Bi-polar alcoholic and drug addict. While I am able to work and have three sources of income, I struggle sometimes like anybody else. Yes, I do have 16 years of recovery and have lived past when most people like me commit suicide. However, that would not be possible without a lot of support and work. A lot of my recovery, and quite frankly sanity, exercises were on the laptop. I wrote about that struggle today: https://bobbyo.blog/2018/10/01/recently-released-letter-to-the-editor/
Secondly, one of my other sources of making a living is contract writing. A lot of “in progress material” was on the laptop. That is money I may never collect. It also hampers my current apartment search.
When Officer Masca returned, based on how I was trained as a US ARMY JAG Legal Specialist, I offhandedly said, “This is a breaking and entering now”.
Officer Masca said, “No, it’s not.” I should have realized he wasn’t that well trained in the law when he denied the existence of Section 223-B of the Property Act earlier in the day.
This is pretty clear. Only 3 people have access to keys. Two of those three are myself and my housemate. The electricity has been turned off. We have received threatening messages in the past. A lock has been placed on the door. Almost $1000 in toto of property is missing – thanks to the Kirkland Police property I will never see again – making it a felony. Yet the Kirkland Police are going to believe Mr. Dwyer when he tells them he knows nothing about what happened. Or, weirder, they are going to allow him to do it by “mistake”.
So I figured with the complaints filed, the best thing I could do was settle in, use my phone to do some blogging, and plan to go to work the next day. In a few minutes that plan would be interrupted. One of Mr. Dwyer’s employees lives in the house behind us. He was leaving on an errand and came to check on what happened. He saw broken door and exclaimed loudly.
I immediately closed and locked the interior door. After a few minutes, Mr. Dwyer, who was supposedly many hours away on vacation, arrived with a few people. They were discussing breaking into the apartment and harming me. I called 911 to get the cops back. I also began typing an email just in case I was put in danger at some time.
After a few minutes, the cops reappeared. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to watch them talk to Mr. Dwyer in the driveway and not arrest him for the theft of my stuff. After a long time, the cops came in to talk to me. They examined the fact that I had not vacated the apartment. They told me Mr. Dwyer would leave and then I could leave safely.
Mr. Dwyer in fact did not leave. He went and parked his vehicle by his friend’s house who lived in the back. Please remember that there was no electricity in the apartment. My phone battery was dying. It is hard for a Bi-polar person to stay in a room all by themselves with only the slightest of ambient noises. I decided to walk out the front and take my chances.
The moment I got into driveway, I heard Mr. Dwyer’s truck rev up its engine and start climbing the hill between the two properties. While Bi-polar meds have done horrible things to my weight, I still run/walk at least 4 miles a day so my legs and lungs are strong. I started running and dialing 911 again. Then I heard the truck stop and I stopped. I turned around and watched as Mr. Dwyer inspected the door and then re-entered my apartment. Again, even if you do not believe the notice was retaliatory, I had 36 hours in which to vacate. I called 911 again to report that. Officer Masca was not pleased.
When he arrived, he accused all of us of acting like children. Excuse me?? $1000 worth of my stuff was taken by someone you stood in front of for 20 minutes. Then he told me to get over it. He said that he was not handling this as a criminal matter. He said it was a civil one as instructed by his “supervisor”. When he left, I called Kirkland Police. This supervisor was nowhere to be found so I left a message on the general voicemail. Much like I have questions about the Building Inspector, I now have questions about the Police Department.
This gets us to the crux of the issue. If the Kirkland Police believe they do not know who did this, then they must not be good at their jobs. If they are saying they do know who did it, but it’s ok for a landlord to make a mistake and “steal your stuff” two days early, where does that leave every tenant in our state?? Any landlord at any time can walk in and take things because, well, they thought you vacated.
Please tell me if the Kirkland Police acted properly in this instance. If in your knowledge of the law they did, then we need new laws. If you do not believe they acted appropriately, then I am asking you to issue the appropriate warrant for Dustin Dwyer. Please advise as to what I should do next.
Robert T. Oliveira
Clark Mills, NY 13501