A coalition of landlords who own properties in Huntington is suing the town over a law requiring permits and inspections for non-owner-occupied rental units.
In its filing, Citizens for Fair Housing, Inc., alleges the rental registration law violates landlords’ constitutional rights and that the permit fees create a burden on landlords.
“We want this repealed,” said Huntington landlord Jean Mamakos,, the secretary of the coalition and a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We don’t need a rental permit to have the town go through a tenant’s house and roam around; it’s a privacy issue and it’s unconstitutional.”
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, but would not offer additional comment, citing the pending litigation.
Under the law, which the town board passed in January 2015 and revised in May, landlords must obtain a permit, which is valid for two years, that certifies that the home has been examined by an independent state-certified inspector, a Town of Huntington public-safety inspector or a licensed engineer. The permit costs $475.
The suit was filed Oct. 17 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
Named in the suit are the Town of Huntington and the town’s department of public safety, as well as the town board, the interim director of the town’s department of public safety and the town’s fire marshal, all in their official capacities.
Mamakos said the costs of the lawsuit are being paid by about 20 landlords, but the coalition represents up to 100.
Town board member Tracey Edwards, sponsor of the law, said she stands by the legislation, which she says was put into place for tenant and first responder safety and neighborhood preservation.
The inspections ensure that the property is in compliance with town code, town officials said.
Edwards said Huntington’s law was compared to other similar laws in New York State.
“Our rental registration law was based on legislation from other municipalities that were previously challenged and upheld in court,” she said.
A similar law passed by Schenectady was upheld in the Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Department in 2014 and by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last year. East Hampton Town also has a law requiring permits for rental units, which went into effect in May.
Donna Paltrowitz, president of Citizens for Fair Housing, Inc. and a landlord in Huntington for about seven years, said town officials never have produced a study proving the law leads to safer housing.
“We feel the town board is bullying the tenants and property owners into giving up our right of privacy,” said Paltrowitz, a Bellmore resident.
Huntington Rental Registration Law
- Huntington has issued 996 rental registration permits since its law requiring them went into effect.
- 170 applications are pending
- The permit, good for two years, costs $475
- The fee for a new application is $75; for a renewal it’s $25.