The Huntington Town Board voted Tuesday night to revise its year-old law that requires an annual inspection and registration of residential rental properties that are not owner-occupied.
“Our purpose in these laws is for absentee landlords,” said town board member Tracey Edwards, the author of the legislation. “If a landlord is living in the house, like in an accessory apartment, they are more likely to make sure the property is safe for tenants. These laws are for everyone’s safety, including first responders. ”
The board also voted to approve language to tighten and clarify administrative processes in the town code for the fire marshal and public safety departments.
The changes include making the rental permit valid for two years instead of one; no rental registration would be required for a two-family home where one of the units is owner-occupied;, and professionals who are licensed with the state will be eligible to do the inspections required to get a permit, exempting real estate agents from liability and making homeowners responsible for leasing unregistered homes.
In addition, independent consultants hired by the property owner will be liable if they make wrong or false statements about the condition of the house.
Edwards said the changes to the language for the duties of the fire marshal and code inspectors is an effort to make processes more effective and efficient.
“We made sure the fire marshal is only focused on properties that have to do with fire prevention at mixed use and commercial properties, and public safety is focused on inspections of rental properties,” Edwards said.
Next month a public hearing will be held to discuss exempting violators of the rental registration law from jail time and also exempting properties where there is a homeowners association or management company.
That public hearing will be June 7, at 2 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St.