By Kathy Savolt -
During the 12/11 work session of the Board of Trustees (BOT) Trustee Yizar-Reid described an initiative introduced in November to require registration of rental properties under the heading of “tenant protection.” She attached a link to the New York State Office of Rent Administration as backup See HERE. Editor’s Note: This office regulates rent-stabilized apartments and does not address the initiative proposed.
This idea was first proposed by Village Manager Jerry Barberio in January 2022 citing work he had done to address illegal apartments in his previous position in Hammonton, NJ. See HERE. Apparently, the BOT at the time did not pursue it.
Regardless of the genesis of the idea, the goal seems to be combating illegal apartments and overcrowding. Citing that during major storms, the Village had no jurisdiction to help displaced tenants, Yizar-Reid explained that a registration of rental units would help and also limit the amount of people in flood-prone dwellings, especially basement apartments.
A new law (not yet drafted) would require owners of rental properties to get a permit (for a fee) in order to be able to rent. The Village would create and maintain a registration of all rental properties in the Village. Any violations of the law would have civil penalties and the Village would conduct annual inspections (also for a fee) in order to ensure compliance with the law.
Trustee Nora Lucas asked if it would apply to rentals of single family homes, and it is not clear if it would. After some discussion, the BOT voted 3-2 to ask the Village Attorney to draft a law for review with Trustee Lucas and Mayor Torres voting no. Torres stated that she didn’t have time to come up to speed on the issue.
At the regular BOT meeting, Laura Abbate spoke strongly against this proposal both as a landlord and as a representative of the Washingtonville Neighborhood Association. Abbate wanted to know how this benefits the residents of Washingtonville or of the entire Village. She felt this new law would penalize homeowners and said she was “disheartened by the whole concept of it.”
She told the BOT that there were already laws on the books to address their concerns and they should be enforced. She again asked who would benefit by “regulating our living space that we maintain?” She asked the BOT to help the homeowners and not tenants who are “transients.” She asserted that this “doesn’t make sense.”
Patti Trifiletti also spoke to the BOT saying she “can’t agree with Laura more.” She cited an occasion when she reported a problem of overcrowding in her neighborhood and “had the Building Inspector there” and nothing happened. She suggested checking applications for the neighborhood parking permits to see how many are from the same address. Trifiletti enumerated the expense of owning a home in the flood zone of Mamaroneck including property taxes and flood insurance and said she was against requiring paying for a permit to legally rent space in her home.
The issue remains open as the Village Attorney drafts a law for comments.