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Landlord-tenant dispute leads to arson charges

Landlord-tenant disputes are not uncommon in Michigan, but rarely do they get as extreme as one recently did in New York. A Westchester County landlord set two separate fires outside her home early in the morning of November 3. Her own family members, including two grandchildren, were sleeping inside the home at the time, according to local police officers. They further added that, after lighting each of the fires, the woman simply went back to bed. She allegedly set the first fire around 12:30 am and the second around 4:30 am. The fires burned down a pine tree behind the home, igniting a rear deck as well.

Both fires were allegedly set for the purpose of scaring away a female tenant in an apartment attached to the home. The landlord had reportedly been trying for over a week to scare the woman off. Police would not comment on why she was so fixated on removing the tenant.

There were allegations that she had previously spray-painted the tenant's car and apartment with offensive language, as well as throwing a rock through her window as part of her plan to get her to leave. The tenant had also received a threatening telephone call at work on November 1. Authorities charged the landlord with misdemeanor counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and child endangerment, as well as felonies including first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief and two counts of third-degree arson.

Landlord-tenant disagreements usually do not go as far as this one did, but they can nonetheless be aggravating for both parties. The success of rental properties is predicated upon the ability to effectively produce income which in turn can depend upon harmonious relationships with tenants.

Source: USA Today, "Police: Landlord set fires to scare tenant away", Terence Corcoran, November 04, 2013

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