Town targets housing near Stony Brook University

The landlord of one Stony Brook house, at The landlord of one Stony Brook house, at 150 Christian Ave., shown, was cited in 2011 for allegedly renting rooms to 14 students in a single-family house. (July 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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Nearly 100 houses near Stony Brook University are suspected of being used as illegal off-campus rentals for hundreds of college students, Brookhaven Town officials said.

Since launching a crackdown earlier this year, town officials have taken 68 landlords to court for allegedly renting rooms in single-family homes in Stony Brook and Setauket, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said last week. Most of the alleged violations involved renting without town permits, he said.

An additional 30 houses are under investigation, Romaine said, adding that students and the university are not at fault.

Neighbors of the houses have complained about loud parties and other nuisances.

"We had this in the past, but not to this extent," Romaine said in an interview. "We are not going to tolerate housing violations in our town, and we are going to pursue them."

The landlord of one house, at 150 Christian Ave., Stony Brook, was cited in 2011 for allegedly renting rooms to 14 students in a single-family house. The case is pending in State Supreme Court, town officials said.

Attempts to reach the landlord, listed in real estate records as North Shore Design Inc. of Mount Sinai, were unsuccessful.

Landlords face fines ranging from $250 to $10,000 per offense, depending on the violation; repeat offenders are fined more, and students may be evicted by court order if their landlords are convicted, Romaine said.

Lauren Sheprow, a Stony Brook University spokeswoman, said the school has changed its policy on advertising off-campus apartments. Landlords must show valid town rental permits, and rentals are cross-referenced with town records before they are posted on the university's off-campus-housing website.

The policy cut the number of advertised rentals in half, Sheprow said. The school advises students to make sure an apartment has a valid permit before renting it, she said.

Sheprow, noting that many students prefer to live off campus, said less than half of Stony Brook students -- 10,000 out of about 24,000 -- live on campus. The college plans to add 1,100 beds in the next five years, she said.

Bruce Sander, a leader of Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners, said he believes town and university officials are trying to resolve the problem. Anger about off-campus rentals has driven more than 700 people to join the group since it formed in March, he said.

"It's really the landlords," he said. "They're trying to make a buck, and they're doing it at our expense."

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