Renting Well Blog

Watertown Landlord Gets Schooled On Social Issues With Mentally Ill Tenant

Add this to the curious personalities file. J. Clancy Hopkins, a landlord in Watertown NY got an eyeful when he recently opened the front door of a unit in his apartment building. He found his first floor, furnished apartment was adorned with biblical quotes and sayings a la Kevin Spacey’s apartment in Seven. The tenant, Mark Stewart, changed the locks and refused to let him have a key. Besides the art project, the tenant had also done other damage. The top of the living room’s steel radiator was sheared off, the kitchen sink was removed, window and other moulding had been stripped and a closet had been ripped apart. All in all – about $25,000 worth of damage.

When Mr. Hopkins acted decisively to remove the tenant, he called in City Constable Patricia J. Hennegan, who immediately recognized Mr. Stewart’s name, and proceeded to share a long list of other landlords who had been affected by Mr. Stewart’s penchant for religious decoration in units he rents out. Five year ago, Perry F. McIntosh, a landlord who owns 54 units in 11 local buildings, had to evict Mr. Stewart from an apartment because of similar damage he did, the landlord recalled.

Mr. Hopkins said he wants to know why he did not find out about his former tenant’s past before he moved in.

The Jefferson County Department of Social Services knew about Mr. Stewart’s past when it placed him in the apartment four months ago, he said. He wonders why he wasn’t told about his history of doing the same thing to other units. According to the piece, the situation has opened his eyes about the people who live in Watertown and have fallen through the cracks. As a result of what happened to the apartment, Mr. Hopkins is pushing for community support services for the mentally ill to remain the same at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Ogdensburg, as the state Office of Mental Health decides its fate.

Author: Chris Saracino

Chris is a co-founder of Renting Well and heads up our marketing and communication efforts. He's also the landlord of two buildings and 8 units in Ottawa, Ontario.

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