Before the year ends, fines collected in Southampton for rental property violations will go toward a fund devoted to one of the town’s growing needs — affordable housing.
The Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 on Oct. 25 to pass a motion to add a $100 surcharge to penalties for rental property violations, such as illegal rentals and overcrowded dwellings.
The motion stated that in addition to any fines imposed, those convicted of violating Chapter 270, Southampton Town’s rental property law, would be charged an additional $100, which would go toward the Community Housing Opportunity Fund to address a “critical need” for the town, according to the amendment language.
Southampton Assistant Town Attorney Kara Bak, who helped craft the language for the new amendment, said she noticed that there was not much money in the town’s community housing fund but that many rental permit violation cases were being handled in town court. Bak — who previously prosecuted town court violations — said she saw “a nexus between rental permits and affordable housing” that could provide a new revenue stream for the town’s housing issues.
According to the town attorney’s office, there have been 97 convictions on “No Rental Permit” charges made in Southampton Town Justice Court from January to Oct. 14.
“There have been times where there have been a lot of rental violations,” Bak said.
Town officials have projected that under the new amendment, which must be approved by the state, as much as $1,000 a month could be netted for the housing fund through rental violations.
Proceeds from the fund can be used for community housing units for residents with eligible income requirements, rehabilitating existing buildings and converting them for community housing use and counseling services and loans to first-time home buyers.