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Tougher wording defines illegal rentals in Port Jefferson

A sign welcomes people to the Village of

A sign welcomes people to the Village of Port Jefferson. (March 22, 2011) (Credit: Jasmin Frankel)

Port Jefferson officials have approved new language in the village code to make it tougher for landlords to rent illegal apartments.

The village board on Aug. 5 voted to add definitions of “family” and “boarding house” to the code. The absence of definitions for those terms has made it difficult to prosecute some cases of suspected illegal house rentals, Mayor Margot J. Garant said.

“Whenever you try to address ‘family,’ you have a lot of legal issues with that,” she said in an interview.

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Complaints about housing rentals are rare — the village typically cites two or three landlords annually for suspected infractions — and only a “very small percentage” of the village’s residential parcels are used as rentals, Garant said.

The board plans to consider increasing fines on landlords who violate the code, Garant said. She said the village’s actions were prompted by tougher housing-rental rules enacted recently by the Town of Brookhaven.

“We don’t want this need for housing to spill over into the village and affect us,” Garant said.

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