Rental registry proposed in State Senate
Registering rental properties has been a hot topic for more than a decade in Chautauqua County.
County officials and landlords may not have much of a say in the matter if state Sen. Brian Kavanaugh, D-New York City, has anything to say about it.
Kavanaugh recently proposed legislation (S.7288) in the state Senate that would create a statewide rental registry to be administered by the Secretary of State and which would include an online database to provide registry information to the public.
Any local government registry would be required to report its registry information to the state for publication, while owners of covered units would be required to register once every three years unless the owner is already registered with a local government.
Properties that would have to be registered are any dwelling that is either rented, leased, or hired out to be occupied or is occupied as the residence of two or more families living independently of each other.
Property owners would be required to provide a valid identifying address for their property and the appropriate designations of all rental units in a building; total number of rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms in each unit; accessibility features of the building and each rental unit; if the unit is subject to any rent regulation or regulatory agreement; the legal name of the owner or owners, including partners, general partners, LLC members and shareholders; a physical address, mailing address and telephone number for each owner to be accessed only by duly authorized local or state government employees, and a schedule of reasonable rent for each unit.
Local governments would be required to submit reports containing all the violations reported in rental units, at least once a month.
“On August 5, 2019, the Committees on Investigations and Government Operations and Housing, Construction, and Community Development released a report on code enforcement in New York state,” Kavanaugh wrote in his legislative justification. “The investigation concluded the lack of prioritization of code enforcement in municipalities across the state is significantly contributing to the culture of poor compliance that ultimately endangers the lives of residents and first responders. The report found that several municipalities had difficulty serving notices of violation and orders to comply because the owner or landlord did not reside within the community or the LLC owner had no registered agent. The report recommended the creation of a statewide residential rental registry to help address this problem.”
A property owner who does not register with the state could pay a civil penalty of between $250 and $500, would not be allowed to remove someone from an apartment for not paying rent as long as the property owner isn’t complying with the rental registry and could face a court order that would not allow landlords to collect rent during the time the owner is not registered.
The state rental registry website would include such information as the number of outstanding violations issued by code enforcement agencies, the number of findings of harassment on record with code enforcement agencies, number and types of active violations and orders by code enforcement agencies and the date the information was last updated.
Kavanaugh has not proposed similar legislation in the past. The bill has been referred to the Senate’s Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee. There is currently not concurrent legislation in the state Assembly.