Local law on rental property code changes to be held today

The scene on Day Street in the village during “Not-Fred Fest” in 2017. A proposal is up for public hearing tonight on changes to rental property codes, one of which includes maximum occupancy rules.

A local law scheduled for a public hearing today could make significant changes to rental property housing codes in Fredonia.

The village government’s Website has a document summarizing proposed housing standards, additions and deletions. The changes are set for a 7:30 p.m. hearing in Village Hall.

According to the document, a big switch is in the maximum occupancy rules. The square footage would be calculated based on bedroom space, not the total non-kitchen space in the house. Previously, there was one occupant allowed per room of from 80 to 120 square feet, two people for rooms of from 120 to 180 square feet, and three for above 180 square feet. The law would make it one occupant per 80 to 100 square feet, two for 100 to 130 square feet and three for 130 square feet or above.

Written notices providing the name, address and number of the owner or his or her contact person would have to be posted in the buildings. There would also be a central registry of all of Fredonia’s rental properties and a list of the names of their tenants.

There is also a new provision about drainage that reads, “All gutters and down spouts shall be in good working condition and shall drain water away from foundations. Storm waters shall not drain on neighboring properties.”

In addition:

¯ Fuel burning water heaters would be banned from bedrooms and bathrooms.

¯ Fire extinguishers will have to be located in kitchen areas and serviced yearly.

¯ All rental homes will have to have numbers made of reflective materials at least 4 inches high.

Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis, who put together the committee that wrote the proposed law, said Sunday evening she had three reasons for the move.

“First, I wanted to alleviate some of the complaints from residents regarding rental properties,” she said. “Two, I wanted to make sure the tenants have proper housing … and that houses are kept to high standards. Third, and very importantly, I wanted to make sure the people who own the houses treat the properties properly. We (the village) need the properties to retain value over time.”

Landis would like the Fredonia Village Board to vote on the law tonight, right after the hearing, but would be fine with a delay.

“There were some complaints and quite a few people who contacted me,” she explained. “I want to make sure these complaints are addressed. I’m open to not having the vote.”

She said many of the complaints were over the registry of rental properties and the list of tenants. Landis explained the tenants’ list is mainly to keep things straight for police, as it is not uncommon to see someone falsely identify themselves as a resident when a party with dozens of people is broken up.

There were also concerns about listing the landlords’ contact information in the buildings. “People don’t want their names to be disgraced,” the mayor said.

Landis added the law is not intended to target anyone.

“We’re not collecting information to do anything with it,” she said. “I don’t know how anybody can think we are out to get anybody… the vast majority of landlords are in compliance, we just want the rest of the them to be. We don’t want the village to be known as a place where everything goes.”