Recently, Mayor of the City of Keene Kendall Lane proposed a potential ordinance to the City Council that would fine landlords if police are called to their properties more than three times in a year for violations such as noise complaints or fights. While we can see that Lane wants to control the college parties and bring down complaints from the community itself, we feel that fining landlords won’t solve this problem.
The city of Keene is a college town, and in college towns, there are bound to be parties. Keene landlords ultimately make their own decision as to whether or not they want to rent out to college students, however, it is not the landlord who is making the noise on the weekends, blasting music or getting into fights on his or her lawn.
In 2016, only two properties in Keene, one on Marlboro Street and one on Church Street, would have lent themselves to action under this ordinance. So why does this really need to be passed? Why is it that landlords across the board could possibly be fined when only two residences caused major problems last year? At that point, if the police are called to residences that many times, tenants should be getting fined and the fines should keep rising until the tenants finally realize that they need to be more respectful neighbors of the community.
At Keene State College, students are required to live on campus through sophomore year. When junior year hits, students are given the option of living off campus. If students make this decision, they should be mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with it. This issue of noise complaints in Keene should be held as personal accountability on the tenants themselves. If tenants are willing to risk having a party that gets too out of hand, that should be on them, not the landlords. Many landlords specifically have it outlined in their lease with tenants what may lead to eviction. Creating a public nuisance can be just one of these things. So in a sense, the tenants are putting themselves at risk by violating the lease, and therefore, if these issues continue, they should be fined and evicted after multiple violations so that tenants learn their lesson.
One problem that can come out of this potential ordinance is when a finicky neighbor calls the police over to the apartment next door when the noise isn’t necessarily out of control. If the police visit, it will still be noted in the police log as a violation. So with this ordinance, landlords could be fined for even minute issues.
Another problem that could arise out of this is the fear of calling the police when a party gets out of hand because of the risks of fines. When too many people or complete strangers show up to a random party, it can get out of hand quickly.
We at The Equinox would like to see our fellow classmates have a good rapport with the Keene Police Department (KPD) and the Keene community itself. We do not want to see students being stuck in a bad position, like hosting a party where someone is so drunk that they need to be taken to the hospital or hosting a party that has so many attendees that the party becomes unsafe; we don’t want students to avoid calling KPD because they are scared of the consequences.
We feel that tenants should be held personally accountable for their actions and that Mayor Lane’s proposal will not change the way landlords run their business. Landlords who rent out to college students genuinely continue to do so each year. We recognize the problems that Lane is trying to eliminate, but we feel that proposing an ordinance such as this will not eliminate the problem of noisy tenants throwing parties as a whole.