The Village of Baxter Estates proposed a local law to regulate the rental of residential units within the village through issuing permits and annual inspections at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting.
The board also voted to approve the new Port Washington Fire Department contract.
The local law on rents was proposed the board and the mayor at the public hearing March 9 meeting. The board will vote on the measure at the next meeting April 5 and review the law in the meantime.
The intent of this law is to mitigate the dangers posed by rental dwelling units that do not meet minimum fire safety and construction standards within the village.
“It’s a way for the village to enhance its ability to establish the safety of residential units in the village,” Village Attorney Christopher Prior said during the meeting.
To do so, the village board is proposing a registration and inspection process for rental dwelling units on a periodic basis. The language in the proposed law says this “will promote the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of said dwelling units and the good order of the village in general.”
The law would require any property owner who is renting out any residential space to obtain a permit from the village beforehand. It would prohibit property owners from listing, soliciting, advertising or offering, exhibiting or showing a rental unit within the village before obtaining a permit.
Residential property owners would be able to apply for permits by completing forms provided by the village and submitting them to the superintendent of buildings. Applications must be submitted by the owner of the premises or an agent designated by the owner.
The property owner will be required to provide certification from a licensed architect, a licensed professional engineer or the superintendent of buildings vouching that the unit is in compliance with all the provisions.
Permits would be granted once the superintendent of buildings determines that the rental unit is in compliance with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the Baxter Estate code.
Permits would be valid for two years from the date they are issued, except upon transfer of record ownership of the premises.
If a permit is denied, the applicant would be notified as to why and be able to appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
If a property owner does not live in Nassau County, they must designate a person with an office or mailing address within the county as an agent for the property.
If the property is transferred to a different owner, permits would not be transferred as well. The new property owner would be required to notify the village within 48 hours after the title is transferred and apply for a new permit within 10 days.
The law also allows for the superintendent of buildings to authorize or conduct inspections to determine the conditions of the rental unit for the purpose of safeguarding the “health, safety, morals and welfare of the public,” as stated in the law.
Rental property owners will be required to annually submit a written report detailing the operating conditions of unit devices and utilities within the rental unit, such as electrical heating equipment and sprinkler systems. These reports would need to be submitted between June 1 and July 1 every year.
Penalties for violating this law would include a fine of $500-$1,000, a maximum of 15 days in jail or both for first offenses. Subsequent offenses would result in higher fines, potentially reaching upwards of $5,000.
During Thursday’s meeting, the board also voted to approve the Port Washington Fire Department contract that includes a newly established cost recovery program. The vote was made with minor changes to the language in the fire contract.
The Fire Department contact is proposing billing people who utilize their emergency medical services, which had been barred until new state legislation allowed it starting last July.
While the contract proposes billing people transported to hospitals by the department’s ambulance services, it also includes a “compassionate billing” program. This program would automatically waive the co-pay by Port Washington residents, waive costs for residents who would experience financial strain to pay it off and not bill anyone who is uninsured.
The fire contract will not be in effect until all seven municipalities the department services vote to establish the contract. The Town of North Hempstead approved the contract on March 1. Baxter Estates is the first village to approve the contract.
The Board of Trustees will convene again April 5, when it will present the village’s budget in addition to voting on the rental inspection proposal.