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Fredonia passes rental property code changes

After years of debate, and a “no” vote on a previous version last October, Fredonia’s Board of Trustees finally passed a law Sept. 9 changing the village’s code on rental housing.

The unanimous vote, with no discussion, contrasted sharply with the events of 2018, when the prospect of publically available registries of both renters and landlords brought dozens to a public hearing on a previous version of the law. Concerns about invasion of privacy caused the law to get tabled several times, then ultimately get voted down. Trustees Michael Barris, Roger Britz and Douglas Essek all voted against it, while Trustee Kara Christina abstained.

However, Mayor Athanasia Landis — who originally proposed a rental property registry in the summer of 2016, according to a Sept. 8, 2016 OBSERVER article — wanted village officials to take another look at the matter.

The Fredonia Planning Board took the lead on creating a new draft of the law. Opposition to it from landlords and other community members seemed to dissolve after two provisions were removed:

¯ The requirement for tenants to have a registry of their own, created by and accessible to village officials.

¯ A mandate to make landlords and property managers post their contact information somewhere in their buildings.

The registry for property owners remains in the version passed Sept. 9, but now requires the name and contact information of the property’s managing agent only if the owner lives outside Erie, Chautauqua or Cattaraugus counties. The property owner only has to supply his or her name and address.

To be kept on file at the Code Enforcement Office, the registry will include rental property addresses, and numbers of units and bedrooms for each site.

The law states that certificates of compliance can be revoked and injunction proceedings can begin against the landlord if there is any violation or refusal to comply with it.

There are numerous other amendments to the Fredonia rental property code in the law passed Sept. 9, but most of them are changes to make the village’s code the same as the New York state codes. One addition of note: “Fuel-burning water heaters shall not be located in sleeping rooms, bathrooms or toilet rooms.”

The additions and changes to the rental property code are available in a document on the village of Fredonia website at villageoffredoniany.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Final-Draft-8-16-2019.pdf

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