News in Cortland NY

City Rental Housing Permit Proposal

A law has been proposed concerning Rental Housing Permits, with Public Hearing to be held on May 19, 2009. A summary of the proposed law is posted below, and a complete copy of the proposed law is available now for download (the changes shown on this document were made at the April 21, 2009 Common Council meeeting).

See a sample of the Rental Inspection Form. MRL sections are not applicable to one- and two- family dwellings. For more specific information regarding the Property Maintenance Code of New York State contained within those Rental Inspection Forms, visit the New York State Department of State website for a read only version of the Property Maintenance Code of New York State.

Summary of City of Cortland Rental Housing Permit Proposal

The purpose of this document is to explain (briefly) the content and intent of the rental permit proposal. The intent of the document is to allow Code Enforcement to get into properties that may have violations. Currently there are issues that are not being addressed for a multitude of reasons. The document will allow the laws to be enforced.

The content is fairly straightforward. It states that whatever the legal occupancy is before the document is implemented will continue. This applies to RENTAL properties, not owner occupied. Since rental properties that are three units or more currently already require inspections, this will extend the law to one and two family properties.

Inspections would take place at least every three years (or whenever there is a registered complaint that the landlord has been notified about but may not have corrected). The inspection will determine the condition of the structure by a visual inspection. Owner occupied sections of properties that have rentals can be certified by the owner.

The permit states that violations can include anything that is against the laws of the state, county, or city. Disabling a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector is illegal. Serious fire hazards or electrical violations, or failure to provide heat must be corrected in a reasonable time frame.

The permit can be revoked (with substantive evidence): if the offender is a habitual violator- OR the premises are a public nuisance (as described by city code)- OR three or more violations have occurred within a 12 month period. Before revocation, the aggrieved party shall be entitled to a hearing in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Property owners will sign a registration form provided by the city code office. It will give the contact information of the owner, the number of units and legal number of occupants for the dwelling. Also included will be contact numbers for the owner (or owner’s agent- who must live in Cortland or a contiguous county- who may be mailed notice or service of process), whether the lease is written or oral, and square footage of habitable space.

If inspections are not done within the first year of passing of the law, then Code will issue temporary permits which are in effect until the appropriate inspection, and issuance of inspection certificate. Occupancy limits will be governed by chapter 300 of the City Code (zoning).

Fees will be charged as set forth by the council’s resolution. Permits are valid for 36 months, and are issued when all requirements of this law have been met. New structures are included in this as well.

Inspections should be done 30 days before initial occupancy (new structures), or within 30 days of expiration of permit. If there are violations, written notice will go to the owner (or agent). If upon a second inspection a violation of health/safety/maintenance still exists, the permit will be suspended and structure vacated.

Code enforcement can get an administrative search warrant to inspect properties when not allowed to by landlords and tenants if they suspect a violation.

The rental permit will be displayed at a main entrance. Transfer of property invalidates the permit (a new permit must be applied for).

Violations of the permit can result in a fine or civil penalty, not to exceed the maximum as set forth in state/city code.

Summary written by Brian Tobin.