More than 100 landlords in St. Paul have signed on to a year-old program aimed at curbing quality-of-life calls at rental properties across town.
The program, Landlord Alert, hopes to get ahead of problems by sending landlords daily e-mail updates about police calls to their properties.
“It’s very popular,” Assistant Chief Kathy Wuorinen told the St. Paul City Council at a recent budget committee meeting. “The landlords love it.”
The program started in late 2015 and has since enrolled 105 landlords with a total of 1,600 properties. About 500 of those properties were added since summer.
“We don’t want a bunch of homes in the city boarded up,” said Senior Cmdr. Shari Gray, head of the department’s Western District. “We want good homes in the city.”
Landlords are notified when police are called to their properties for qualify-of-life crimes such as loitering, excessive noise and drug complaints, among others. They are not notified if tenants are victims of domestic abuse, police said, so that victims are not unfairly penalized.
“It makes them aware of what’s going on, because a lot of rental property owners are not on-site,” Gray said.
Mary McDonald, a civilian employee who administers the program, said the department’s computer software automatically separates quality-of-life calls from other types of calls, and she then manually e-mails landlords with the information. Some calls involving disturbances or assaults may be reviewed first to determine if they meet the criteria for notifications, she said.
The program is also focused on prevention, Gray said. Landlords, property managers or their on-site caretakers can attend a voluntary daylong training session with St. Paul police and city staff. They can also meet with city staff to assess possible changes to their property — lighting, landscaping and other issues — that could help reduce crime.
“The goal is to make everybody — the whole community — better, not to shut them down,” Gray said.
Properties that continue to receive a high volume of police calls will be reported to code enforcement officers, McDonald said. If landlords don’t rectify quality-of-life issues, they could be charged with excessive consumption of police services.
The program was modeled after a similar one already active in Minneapolis.
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