In a first among Long Island towns, Babylon Town is proposing the creation of a board to review apartment and house rental applications.
A public hearing on the proposal will be held Wednesday.
Babylon is seeking to change its code to revamp its rental permit process and create a seven-member board that would decide whether to grant and renew permits. The board would oversee all apartments in houses and buildings, but not accessory apartments where the landlord is on site, and which have their own board.
No other town on Long Island has a rental permit review board. Babylon has not yet chosen the board members, but Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez said it will likely be a mix of town employees, community leaders and members from other town boards.
Excluding villages, the town has 2,467 active rental permits, according to town spokesman Kevin Bonner. The hamlet with the largest number of rentals is West Babylon, which has 481, followed by Wyandanch with 400, Copiague with 339 and Deer Park with 270.
Martinez said that many of the current rentals in the town are essentially run as businesses, with owners often living outside the town or even the county.
“So it’s out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “Often these owners live in very nice, affluent areas with manicured lawns . . . and they have some properties scattered throughout our town that are in need of repair.”
Hanging gutters, cracked sidewalks, missing shutters and no landscaping are just some of the issues the town sees, Martinez said, and it has become a quality-of-life issue.
“They are making money off these properties but letting them run into the ground,” Martinez said. “It’s unfair to the neighbors and it’s unfair to the tenants.”
Currently, to get a permit, which is good for two years, an owner fills out an application and the town does an inspection of the property. But neighbor concerns and complaints are not part of the process, Martinez said.
Under the proposed changes to town code, the applications and inspections would continue, but also a property owner would have to post notice on the property of an upcoming board review that the public can attend.
“Now people are going to have that opportunity, which I think is a fairer way to do this,” Martinez said. “It also gives the board the opportunity to ask some very key questions.”
He said the town hopes to have a board in place in September.
The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. during a Zoom meeting. Those looking to make comment or speak at the hearing can sign up at townofbabylon.com/459/Upcoming-Public-Meetings.