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Brookhaven Town offering amnesty period to legalize apartments

The site of Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville.

The site of Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville. The town is giving homeowners a chance to bring their accessory apartments into compliance. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Brookhaven Town is offering homeowners an amnesty program to bring their accessory apartments into compliance before it initiates a crackdown.

The town has identified more than 2,578 accessory apartments inside of homes that have expired permits.

Brookhaven officials said safety was the overriding reason for the program and crackdown, citing a Farmingville man who recently died in an illegal basement apartment.

“This is an opportunity for homeowners who haven’t gotten their licenses to come in and do so as part of our amnesty program,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Wednesday. “An accessory apartment should be safe and code compliant.”

The amnesty program is effective between Feb. 1 and April 30, town officials said. 

Town officials said licensed accessory apartments benefited from the building permit process, which included inspecting smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and ensuring the apartment complied with New York State building codes.

Town officials plan to crack down on the noncompliant homes after the program ends. 

“They are illegal because you need a license to ensure the house is safe,” Romaine said, adding homeowners who don’t bring their homes up to code could face a fine. “There are penalties because you should have come in for a license.”

Homeowners will receive a letter in the mail with an accessory apartment application that must be mailed back or dropped off at Town Hall. Homeowners can also file the application on the town’s website.

Homeowners must go before the accessory apartment review board once the application is filed.

Romaine said accessory apartments could help homeowners financially while creating more affordable housing.

Brookhaven has 5,906 homes with accessory apartments, records show.

Of those, 3,328 either have a current license or pending application, records show. Some of the licenses have been withdrawn, expired or  have not been renewed, records show.

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