Brookhaven officials are considering a code change that would allow town inspectors to cite homeowners for creating unsafe conditions by placing locks on bedroom doors or failing to install devices such as carbon monoxide detectors.
The move comes two months after a Suffolk County judge said town attorneys failed to prove charges that a landlord created unsafe conditions at a Stony Brook rooming house.
Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said Monday the code states that homes must be "free of conditions that were detrimental to safety and health," but does not specify what those conditions are. She said the revamped code would be more specific.
"The language was vague before," Eaderesto said. "The more clarity we can give to a code, the better off it is."
The town board is expected to hold a public hearing next month on the proposed code change.
Eaderesto said the proposed code change was prompted by a decision by Sixth District Court Judge David A. Morris. In April, Morris acquitted landlord North Shore Design Inc. of 24 counts of creating unsafe conditions at a Stony Brook house occupied by more than a dozen college students.
Town attorneys had argued that locks installed on bedroom doors were unsafe because firefighters would be unable to enter the rooms during a fire. Morris ruled that the town did not prove its case.
North Shore Design was convicted of 15 other charges, such as creating illegal apartments and making building alterations without a permit. The company was ordered to pay $28,000 in fines; the firm's attorneys said they would appeal the convictions.