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East Hampton rental registry to take effect in January

A home at 11 Fairview Ave. in Montauk

A home at 11 Fairview Ave. in Montauk is available for rent for the summer season on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. Credit: Randee Daddona

Applications for East Hampton’s controversial new rental registry will be available through the town’s building department beginning Feb. 1, and the law requiring property owners to sign up will start being enforced on May 1.

The measure is expected to go into effect early next month.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said that during the transition period from now until May, he will meet with other local officials to discuss the implementation of the law, plans for publicizing the measure and existing related local codes.

“So it isn’t urgent people sign up right away,” Cantwell said. “We understand a transition will have to take place for owners and landlords contemplating renting for the summer. We want to give people the opportunity to comply with the law before enforcing it.”

Cantwell said the application will be available online by spring, but that until then the process will be done on paper.

Under the new law, property owners not living on the rental premises are required to file an application with the town’s building department before advertising or entering into a lease. Landlords who do not register, and tenants who occupy unregistered premises, will be subject to prosecution. Registration requires a $100 fee for a registry number, which will be good for two years.

Information to be filed with the town includes the number of bedrooms and number of occupants in a house, but not the names of tenants. The law also requires disclosure of rental periods, with updates required when changes occur. There will be no fee for filing updates, as originally proposed.

In addition, property owners must provide a notarized statement showing their properties meet state maintenance codes for 22 items, such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, pool fencing and stairway handrails. Cantwell noted that a certificate of occupancy is also required.

The supervisor said there are an estimated 6,000 properties offered for rent annually in East Hampton Town. The need for the registry was fueled by problems with disruptive young summertime visitors who rent in popular vacation destinations such as Montauk, Cantwell said.

“It’s not going to change everything overnight, but we want to try to solve the overcrowding and illegal housing problems over time,” he said.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the registry will definitely help.

“The adopted law strikes a balance of preserving a property owner’s right to rent their property with the community’s need to protect the quality of life and character of their residential neighborhoods,” she said.

Applications for the registry will become available through the East Hampton Town building department on Feb. 1 and will be available online by spring.

  • The new law will start being enforced on May 1.
  • Failure to sign up for the registry could result in fines of $3,000 to $15,000 and up to 6 months in jail, or both. Violations can be issued every day a person does not register.
  • Officials are planning question-and-answer sessions to familiarize Realtors with the rental registry requirements.

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