Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space revising the definition of landlord to include rooming and boarding house owners and operators was advanced today by the Assembly Housing Committee. The bill is an effort to hold boarding house owners responsible for disruptive behavior by tenants. It closes a loophole in state law that applies only to landlords of apartment complexes. “We need to untie the hands of Newton officials so they have the tools they need to hold delinquent owners accountable while protecting residents,” said Wirths. “I’m sure other towns have similar problems. It’s time to give local officials the authority they need to deal with this issue.” The measure is in response to chronic problems the Town of Newton has been experiencing with several boarding houses. At one particular property, police responded to 77 calls in less than a year. More recently, law enforcement responded to four drug overdoses in one day at the same residence.“Newton officials have been dealing with this problem for years,” said Space (R-Sussex). “It’s affected the quality of life in certain neighborhoods, puts a burden on police and other first responders, and could drive down property values. Using a disproportionate amount of resources at the same facilities over and over is a safety issue for the rest of the community.” The legislation allows towns to enact ordinances holding owners and operators of rooming and boarding houses to the same standards of responsibility as landlords of other rental properties. State Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Sussex) sponsors the Senate version of the bill (S481) which was approved in a previous session.