Greenport trustee pushes for rental permits, inspections

JULIE LANE PHOTO | House on Third Street opposite Greenport Village Hall has been restored by a new owner. It had been in serious disrepair and village officials learned of its problems only after a fire there, enabling them to gain access. A proposed new rental law would require permits and allow for inspections.

The Greenport properties of absentee landlords could soon be subjected to regular inspections thanks to Greenport Village Trustee David Murray.

Concerned about the safety of renters, he has begun to push in the last few weeks for action on a rental code that has been on Mayor David Nyce’s radar for months.

New rules had appeared unlikely to take shape before next spring until Friday, when Mr. Murray described some apartments in the village as “scary” at a meeting of the village code committee. He warned of unsafe electrical wiring that could cause fires and overcrowding that could complicate rescues. He said the village should adopt a rule requiring rental permits and inspections, especially for properties with non-local landlords.

Mr. Nyce countered that he needed to further research several issues before the code committee recommends a new rental code, including:

• The cost of hiring an outside firm to handle inspections so the building department isn’t burdened with the task;

• Code language to exempt landlords of owner-occupied dwellings so they won’t have to apply for permits; and

• Making sure a village rental permit works in tandem with the inspection system already in place for “Section 8” HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) rentals. The village has a number of Section 8 apartments that undergo regular inspections, Mr. Nyce said.

While agreeing with Mr. Murray that safety issues are critical, Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, a member of the code committee, argued that other factors must be considered as well in drafting a new code, including how it would be enforced and whether or not it would have an impact on tax assessments.

For the full story, see Thursday’s Suffolk Times.