Town of Ghent, NY
Columbia County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Ghent 6-15-2000 by L.L. No. 2-2000. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction and fire prevention — See Ch. 82.
Zoning — See Ch. 190.
A. 
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents in the Town of Ghent, to protect a diverse housing stock from deterioration and to accomplish the foregoing at low cost to owners and occupants in order to keep housing costs as low as reasonably possible in a manner consistent with compliance with this chapter.
B. 
The Town Board finds that enforcement of this chapter will help ensure the protection of persons and property in all existing residential rental structures and help ensure that rental property owners and prospective rental property owners are informed of; and adhere to, code provisions governing the use and maintenance of rental properties.
Except as hereinafter provided, this chapter shall apply to every rental dwelling or premises that are leased, rented, let or assigned, with or without consideration, by an owner-occupant, an absentee owner or a legal agent on behalf of the owner, provided, however, that there are at least three or more separate units in any such dwelling or premises available for, or capable of, being rented or occupied. A dwelling unit that is actually occupied by the owner of the rental dwelling or premises shall not count as a dwelling unit for purposes of this section.
The following terms shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
AGENT
Any person who has charge, care or control of a building, or a part thereof; in which residential rental dwelling units are let.
CHANGE IN THE TENANCY
A change in the tenancy of a residential dwelling unit shall be deemed to have occurred where said unit is unoccupied for a period of 30 or more consecutive days; or said unit becomes occupied by a person or persons, none of whom occupied same during the immediately preceding tenancy.
OWNER
Any person or entity who, alone or with others, has legal or equitable title.
RENTAL DWELLING
Any building which is wholly or partly used or is intended to be used as a habitable space for human occupants for rent.
RESIDENTIAL OCCUPANCY PERMIT
Permit issued by the Building Inspector certifying that a residential rental dwelling unit complies with the provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
RESIDENTIAL RENTAL DWELLING UNIT
Any room or contiguous group of rooms for rent located within a building and forming a single, habitable living space for one family.
A. 
The Town of Ghent Building Inspector shall have the right to inspect all residential rental dwelling units to determine compliance with applicable provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (hereinafter "Uniform Code"). Such inspection may be made at any time, and it is not necessary that a complaint be made in connection therewith.
B. 
On or within three months after the effective date of this chapter, all owners or agents of any residential dwelling or premises that is subject to the provisions of this chapter shall obtain a residential occupancy permit from the Town of Ghent Building Inspector setting forth that each residential rental dwelling unit complies with all applicable provisions of the Uniform Code.
C. 
On or after the effective date of this chapter, each owner or agent of a residential dwelling unit or premises in the Town of Ghent that is subject to the provisions of this chapter shall obtain a residential occupancy permit from the Building Inspector prior to occupancy of such dwelling unit where there is a change in the tenancy. Prior to the issuance of such permit, the Building Inspector shall inspect the premises to determine compliance with the applicable provisions of the Uniform Code.
D. 
It shall be unlawful and a violation of this chapter for an owner or agent to rent, lease, or otherwise allow the occupancy of any residential rental dwelling unit that is subject to the provisions of this chapter without the inspection from the Building Inspector and/or without obtaining a residential occupancy permit as required herein.
E. 
Upon a change in the tenancy for any residential dwelling unit or premises covered by this chapter, but prior to any new occupancy thereof, the owner or agent of such unit shall file with the Building Inspector a request for an inspection of the dwelling unit and the issuance of a residential occupancy permit.
F. 
Each owner or agent shall give written notice to the Building Inspector of a change of tenancy of any residential dwelling unit or premises prior to the effective date of such change. No change in tenancy shall be valid unless such written notice has been given and the Building Inspector has inspected the property, has determined compliance with the provisions of the Uniform Code, and has issued a residential occupancy permit.
G. 
The Building Inspector shall make the inspection of the residential dwelling unit within five business days of the date of receipt of written request from the agent or owner.
H. 
If upon inspection said dwelling or premises do not comply with all applicable provisions of the Uniform Code, the Building Inspector shall indicate the specific items of noncompliance and shall send or deliver them in writing to the agent or owner of the subject residential dwelling unit or premises and shall set forth a time limit not to exceed 30 days for the correction of or substantial effort to correct the deficiencies noted. The failure to correct the deficiencies shall be a separate violation of this chapter in addition to any violation of the Uniform Code.
I. 
The Building Inspector shall make a good faith effort to notify the owner or agent of any residential dwelling unit or premises prior to an inspection, either by telephone or first-class mail. However, the failure to notify the owner or agent shall not prevent the Building Inspector from in any manner inspecting the subject property.
J. 
Where the Building Inspector has reason to believe that the subject residential dwelling unit or premises is in such condition that it creates an imminent hazard to public health or to the physical or mental health or safety of the occupants of the rental dwelling unit, the Building Inspector may inspect the premises immediately, without notice, and in such event shall provide the owner or agent of such residential dwelling unit one working day from the date of receipt of notice to correct any violations. The Building Inspector may further take any additional steps necessary to assure that any violations will be corrected, including the issuance of an order directing that the premises be shut down because of any such hazard to public health or the physical or mental health or safety of the occupants.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to dwellings designated and used exclusively for occupancy as hotels, motels, transient homes, or bed-and-breakfast facilities.
A. 
Any person who shall violate the provisions of this chapter or who fails to comply with any order issued by the Building Inspector pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction, shall be punished in accordance with the provisions set forth in § 382 of the Executive Law of the State of New York as may be amended from time to time, including but not limited to a fine of not more than $1,000 per day of violation or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.
B. 
In addition to any penalties set forth herein, any person who refuses to permit the Building Inspector to inspect the subject dwelling unit or premises shall be liable for payment of a civil penalty of not more than $200 per day for each day such refusal to allow inspection of said dwelling unit or premises continues. Such civil penalty shall be recoverable in an action instituted in the name of the Town of Ghent by the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer. Such action may be initiated in Small Claims Court if the amount due is within the jurisdictional limits of the Court.
The Town of Ghent Justice Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and receive the prosecution of any complaints in connection with any violation of this chapter.
The Town Board shall establish a schedule of fees with respect to the inspection and certification of residential dwelling units. Any fees that are unpaid shall be subject to the placement of a lien by the Town of Ghent against the subject property, and any fee due to the Town of Ghent may also be collected as a civil penalty pursuant to the provisions of § 136-6B.
The provisions of this chapter shall be in addition to all pertinent provisions of the Uniform Code, the Town of Ghent Zoning Law,[1] and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations relating to the subject matter of this chapter, which code, law, rules and regulations shall not be diminished by any provision set forth herein.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 190, Zoning.