Greenport trustee wants village to pursue law regulating rentals

Greenport Trustee David Murray continued his push Monday night for a law regulating rentals within the village. He initiated the proposal last month with little response from the rest of the Village Board, except for Mayor David Nyce.

The mayor has been championing the idea of rental permits, but he and Mr. Murray are on different timelines about the issue. At a code committee meeting a few months ago, Mr. Nyce said drafting an appropriate law is a complex task, probably best left until after the village completes its budget next spring.

Mr. Murray presented a draft proposal Monday, which he created with building inspector Eileen Wingate, that outlines the purpose of such an ordinance, requirements for a permit application and inspection criteria. He said they’ve reviewed similar proposals from many Suffolk towns and villages and concluded that Riverhead’s rental permit ordinance appears to most closely address Greenport’s needs.

Policies in place in the Hamptons pertain more to summer rentals, Mr. Murray said. Riverhead, like Greenport, deals with year-round rentals.

“Most towns and villages have something like this,” Mr. Murray said. “I think it’s very important.”

Ms. Wingate couldn’t be reached for comment after Monday night’s meeting, but she told The Suffolk Times last month that she favors a rental permit ordinance that would assist her in enforcing village codes.

The ordinance would help implement the goals and objectives of the village’s comprehensive plan, Mr. Murray said in written material submitted to the board. He argues that a licensing procedure would ensure residents’ health, welfare and safety; improve rental property maintenance; help reduce excessive noise and trash and debris accumulation; deal with parking and other problems; and increase private sector participation in meeting local housing needs.

He suggests charging a fee but doesn’t propose any specific amount for a two-year permit. The Riverhead code includes fees that vary from $150 to $550, plus an additional $100 for each bedroom over four. Mr. Murray proposes waiving fees for those who provide rental housing to seniors, volunteer firefighters or EMTs.

Regular inspections, with the consent of building owners or managing agents, would enable the village to safeguard the tenants’ health, safety and welfare, Mr. Murray said.

His proposal outlines specific inspection criteria used in Riverhead, which pertain to both interior and exterior conditions.

Exterior requirements could address issues such as clear posting of address numbers; driveways kept clear of hazards and in good repair; maintenance of roofs, gutters and downspouts; keeping exterior metal surfaces free of chipped or peeling paint or rust; and lawn and grounds maintenance. Other exterior issues that could be regulated include windows, stairways, handrails, screening, vents and flues, foundations and cesspools.

The proposal would also ban use of living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, basements, porches and laundry rooms as bedrooms. The village could also seek to ensure proper wiring and include provisions affecting water and plumbing in rental structures.

In Riverhead, the code prohibits overcrowding of structures, and the town’s code official determines the maximum occupancy for each dwelling.

The proposal now goes to the village code committee for review.

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