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East Hampton to begin enforcing rental registry law

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton,

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton, Feb. 26, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

East Hampton officials today will start their first week of enforcing the town’s new rental registry law that requires absentee landlords to provide certain information to the building department before advertising rentals or entering into a lease.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who said an estimated 6,000 properties are offered for rent each year in East Hampton, said in a telephone interview Friday that nearly 2,000 property owners have registered so far.

Rental registry applications became available through the building department on Feb. 1 but Cantwell said enforcement would not start until May 1 to give property owners a chance to familiarize themselves with the new law.

A series of workshops on the registry were held at Town Hall and brochures about the law and related local codes were mailed to East Hampton residents.

“We’re pleased that over 1,800 homeowners have registered — that’s a really good start to the program and we will begin enforcement efforts,” Cantwell said.

Cantwell would not reveal what enforcement methods will be used.

“I’m not going to discuss exactly what those are,” Cantwell said. “We said it will be enforced May 1 and we’ll certainly pursue that.”

Information to be filed with the town includes the number of bedrooms and number of occupants in a rental, but not the names of tenants. The law also requires disclosure of rental terms, with updates required when changes occur, and for landlords to fill out a safety check list for their property.

Registration requires a $100 fee for a registry number, which will be good for two years and will help officials track rentals. The number must be used in all ads and any property owners in violation of the registry law, or tenants who occupy unregistered premises, will be subject to prosecution.

Violators face fines of $3,000 to $15,000 and up to 6 months in jail or both. Violations can also be issued for every day a person does not register.

Problems with disruptive young summertime visitors who rent in popular vacation destinations such as Montauk led town board members to adopt the new law, which they hope will help prevent overcrowding and improve the safety of properties.

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