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Using Crime Statistics and Sex Offender Mapping in your Housing Search

July 26, 2011 by
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What’s the most common question that Realtors can’t legally answer?  “Is this a safe neighborhood?”


Map of Crime and Sex Offenders in the City of Rochester NY

Map of Crime in the City of Rochester NY

The federal government put fair housing laws into place to protect home buyers and renters from a myriad of discriminatory practices.  As a result, landlords can no longer post statements like, “great Catholic neighborhood”, or “no children allowed in this unit”.  Restricting this kind of language is obviously a necessity to prevent certain protected classes from being discriminated against.  Sometimes, fair housing regulations leave Realtors in an awkward position, because answering a question the wrong way might get them in a lot of trouble.

When I’m showing apartments or homes to prospective movers, they always want to know if this is a safe neighborhood.  Unfortunately, I can’t legally answer that question because safety is a subjective term, and my opinions or biases may shape what I consider to be safe. For that reason, Realtors can only provide their client with tools to make that determination for themselves.  In today’s edition of the Democrat and Chronicle, the City of Rochester announced that they will be partnering with CrimeReports.com to begin mapping crime in the city of Rochester.  The site also maps the location of every registered sex offender in Monroe County. Now agents and individuals can search police reports on a slick Google map interface and make the determination of safety for themselves.

The CrimeReports website maps robberies, breaking and entering, assaults, thefts and sexual assaults.  For some reason, the Rochester Police Department has chosen not to provide the data to map rape or other sexual assaults.  I certainly hope that they reconsider that, considering every woman would want to know this information about their community. When using this site, bear in mind that the RPD is just about the only local police department reporting data to the website. As a result, the suburbs look spotless, but this is only because they don’t report any crime data.  It is also worth noting that you should completely avoid using their neighborhood layer, which is supposed to show you the different city neighborhoods. There isn’t a single neighborhood properly identified on the site. All in all, it’s a great tool to use if you’re looking to determine just how safe your next community is.



America’s Most Affordable Cities: Rochester Ranks #4!!!

November 1, 2010 by
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Here is a great article that I found recently on Forbes.com about our very own Rochester, NY! (As of 6/13/11, that article has been taken down by Forbes, but please read on… you’ll get the gist.)

This blog posting ties in with a previous posting from Kristin on “The Rent is Too Damn High Party” (Ha! I love it!) and the fact that we, here in Rochester, have some of the most affordable rents and the cost of living is considerably cheaper than many of the cities throughout the country.

Did you just hear that? Someone’s stomach just growled (inside joke from the video clip of “The Rent is Too…”)–but it wasn’t here in Rochester.

From what the Forbes article says about the few northeastern city winners as  “… emerging from long slumps after being deserted by their manufacturing economies…”, while now providing “…the combination of a newly diversified economy and a history of sustained low costs makes them affordable.”

Post-Industrial Rochester

While we do have a lot of work to do in our community to build Rochester back up from the heydays of the mid-twentieth century, I think the article provides a great base for building upon as we move forward out of the recession.

The time is now to act upon to change Rochester for the better! We must continue to diversify our local economy in order to prevent another “All your eggs in one basket” meltdown with Kodak; we must fully take advantage of our local resources of low costs, a vibrant, educated workforce, and high quality living to attract the best businesses, changemakers, and policies; and we must not succumb to any negativity about how Rochester is “too this, or too that, or not enough of this…”

—because for that matter, if you don’t like the Rochester area, you can always move to a city where Karate Experts will campaign on your behalf where “The Rent is TOO Damn High!”.

If you haven’t checked out our local rent stock lately, go to www.Newdigs.com to find the latest and greatest of affordability in our Rochester area. I am sure you will agree that, in this context, we’re in a much better position than our downstate neighbors.

Jason Schwingle’s passions include travel, art and design, and our City of Rochester. He works for Jetblue Airways and is a Sr. Community Coordinator for Newdigs.com, a local tech start-up here in our very own Rochester, NY. Please comment on the postings or feel free to contact him at Jason@Newdigs.com.

How to Always Collect Your Late Rent Fees

September 15, 2010 by
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gavelIf you’re like most owners of rental property, you own a handful of units and work hard to keep the bills paid.  When a tenant starts slipping behind on their rent you take comfort in knowing that you can apply late rent fees to offset the deferred income.   Being the nice person that you are, you start letting the late payments slide as your tenant continues to struggle to pay rent.  You may think, “Well, at least they are managing to cover the base rent.  I guess it saves me going through an eviction… for now.”

As those late fees pile up unpaid, the joke is on you.  If it ever goes to court… as is often the case, the landlord is out of luck and those fees are generally waived.

The Secret:
Late fees are only enforceable if they are classified as ‘added rent’, which legally entitles you to collecting ‘late fees’ in the same way you are entitle to collect unpaid rent.  Smart landlords always account for this in their leases.

Unenforceable late fee lease clause:

If Tenant fails to pay the rent in full before the end of the 5th day after rent is due, Tenant will pay Landlord a late fee of $25. This fee is due with that month’s rent payment in full.

Enforceable late fee lease clause:

If Tenant fails to pay the rent in full before the end of the 5th day after rent is due, Tenant will pay Landlord, as additional rent, a late fee of $25. This additional rent is payable as rent, together with the next monthly rent due. Late charges, attorney’s fees and any expenses related to the enforcement of this lease shall be classified as “additional rent”.

Now you have the option of letting your enforceable late fees accrue, buying your renter some breathing room. You also have the option of taking past due charges out of the latest rent payment. If you go this route, you should inform the tenant of exactly how the rent was applied and what the balance now due is. As always, be sure to communicate this to your tenant in writing.

Regrettably necessary disclaimer: Newdigs is not in the business of giving legal advice, please consult your attorney for the real thing. We’re just here to get you thinking like a pro!

South Wedge Neighborhood Guide

August 1, 2010 by
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The South Wedge is one of Rochester’s hippest neighborhoods.  Packed to the brim with compost-enthusiasts, tattooed hipsters, sweet little old ladies who’ve lived there their whole lives, and culture galore, the South Wedge is a highly symbiotic blend of environmentalists, artists, and community-involved residents.

Connect with South Wedge Neighbors
Southwedge.org – Rochester’s South Wedge Neighborhood Social Network

Drink & Dine in the South Wedge
Beale Street Cafe
Boulder Coffee Co.
Caverly’s Irish Pub
Cheesy Eddie’s
Coffee Connection
Equal Grounds
Flavors of Asia
Hedonist Artisan Chocolate
John’s Tex-Mex Eatery
Julienne Catering
The Keg Sports Bar
Lin’s Garden
Little Venice Pizza
Lux Lounge

Mise en Place Market
Open Face Sandwich Eatery
Pat’s Coffee Mug
Premier Pastry
Savory Thyme
South Wedge Colony Bar
South Wedge Diner
Tap and Mallet

Stores and Boutiques
Botanica Obatala Shango
Historic Houseparts


Festivals, Parks, and Outdoor Activities

South Wedge Artists & Musicians
Clarke Conde Photography
Vicki Hartman Clay
Made by Rachel


Places of Worship

Other Resources