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Hempstead Village amends apartment law after deadly fire

Executive director of Strong, Rahsmia Zatar, left, hugs

Executive director of Strong, Rahsmia Zatar, left, hugs Anna Ramirez whose grandson Fernando and his mother Guadalupe, died in an apartment complex fire Saturday. (Feb. 17, 2013) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

The Hempstead Village board of trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to approve amending a village law that would require rental registration permits for apartments, after landlords in the village successfully challenged the statue through the court system.

The village board voted 5-0 after holding a hearing Tuesday on the law requiring property owners of residential buildings to obtain a rental occupancy permit for their dwelling units, in addition to the certificate of occupancy already required.

“This law is specifically to protect the quality of life,” Village Attorney Debra Urbano-DiSalvo said in an interview.

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The permit application requires the managing agent or operator, number of tenants occupying each unit, number of rooms in the units and their dimensions. A $50 application fee is also required for each unit, with an option of paying $150 per unit for the village to conduct an inspection. Otherwise, they would have to get an architect’s or engineer’s certification.

The initial permit fee ranged from $150 for a one-bedroom to $287 for a four-bedroom. The original law also had required all apartments to be inspected every two years.

Applicants will also have to provide certification that the units are equipped with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. They also have to provide certification that the property complies with sanitary and housing regulations. Landlords will have until Aug. 30 to comply. The permit would be valid for two years.

This comes after the deadly village apartment fire on Feb. 9 at 17 St. Pauls Rd. North that killed a mother and son. After the fire, many displaced residents complained there were no working fire alarms, accessible fire escapes or fire extinguishers in the 1950-era buildings. The fire was classified as accidental.

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