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Rental law changes sent to Fredonia trustees

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford A house on Lambert Avenue in Fredonia with rooms for rent is shown Tuesday. The Fredonia Planning Board approved changes to the village’s rental properties code on Tuesday, sending the matter to the Fredonia Board of Trustees, which has final say.

By M.J. STAFFORD

mstafford@observertoday.com

After its fifth revision, proposed changes to Fredonia’s code for residential rental properties got approved by the village Planning Board Tuesday.

The matter now goes to the Fredonia Board of Trustees for a final vote. The board voted against changes to the code last fall.

In the latest revisions, there are no requirements for registries of tenants and the posting of landlords’ contact information on their properties, as there were in previous drafts of the law. These brought outspoken opposition from many landlords and led to the trustees voting down the initial attempt at changes last year.

There will still be a requirement for a landlord registry, however. According to the draft, “The owner of rental property shall register rental property with an application from the Code Enforcement Office within 30 days of the effective date of this section.” The applications must include property address, number of units and bedrooms, “owners name and address and name and contact information of managing agent if owner lives outside Erie, Chautauqua or Cattaraugus counties.” These records will be kept on file by the code enforcers.

The full text of the changes is available at the village of Fredonia’s website, www.villageoffredoniany.com.

Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting included a portion for public comment on the proposed rental code changes — but no one had any criticism this time, though a couple of people asked for clarifications. One audience member did comment that this week is the worst time of the whole year to ask rental property landlords to attend an important meeting, because they are getting their houses ready for the SUNY Fredonia students that will be coming to town this weekend for the start of the fall semester.

Scott Mackay, Planning Board chairman, noted in response that there will be one more public hearing on the matter, when the Board of Trustees takes it up. Chief Code Enforcement Officer Charles LaBarbera also told her and the rest of the audience that anyone with questions on the changes can call him or Assistant Code Enforcement Officer Steve Manos about them.

The village trustees, along with Mayor Athanasia Landis, were in attendance. “I believe you cleaned up a lot of stuff we had issues with,” Trustee Douglas Essek told the Planning Board. Essek — who is challenging Landis in November for the mayor’s chair — was one of three trustees who voted against the initial attempt at rental code revisions in 2018.

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