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Rochester Housing Court Would Specialize in Landlord-Tenant Issues

Staff report

City Council is scheduled to consider a bill to set up a housing court within Rochester City Court. File photo

Legislation that would create a housing court is being considered by City Council.

Mayor Lovely Warren submitted a bill to council on Feb. 8 that would establish a designated housing part in Rochester City Court to better protect tenant and landlord rights and ensure equitable access to housing.

The legislation asks City Council to approve a home rule message to the state legislature to establish a designated housing part that allows a City Court judge to deal exclusively with matters pertaining to landlord/tenant relationships.

The housing court, with a judged dedicated to hearing cases, would take up issues of rent payment, code compliance for residential buildings and the habitability of residential units. These landlord/tenant quality-of-life issues have been heard by judges who also deal with a range of civil and criminal matters.

“This Court will give the concerns of our renters the focused attention they deserve,” Warren said in a news release announcing the legislation. “This Court will help guarantee the fundamental human right of safe, quality and affordable housing is delivered to every city resident.”

The legislation is scheduled to be heard in committee on Feb. 11 and by the full council on Feb. 16.

This is different from the the Special COVID Intervention Part set up last year by the city, Monroe County, U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle and the Seventh Judicial District, which dealt with evictions that involve tenants affected by the pandemic.