City of Buffalo, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Derived from Art. XII of Ch. XXV of the Charter and Ordinances, 1974, of the City of Buffalo; amended in its entirety 2-6-2007, effective 3-5-2007. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction and demolition; fire prevention — See Ch. 103.
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 113.
Certificates of occupancy — See Ch. 129.
Discrimination — See Ch. 154.
Housing standards — See Ch. 242.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 341.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
LODGING HOUSE
A building in which three or more persons are accommodated for a fee with sleeping privileges. The term shall also include any establishment known as a "rooming house" which accommodates three or more persons for a fee with sleeping privileges.
A. 
No person, firm, corporation, or like entity shall occupy, operate, use or maintain any building or portion thereof as a lodging establishment nor conduct a lodging house in any building or portion thereof without first having been issued license by the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services pursuant to a verified written application upon forms provided by the Department.
B. 
No license shall be issued unless the owner or the approved agent of the owner as provided and licensed pursuant to this chapter resides on the premises of the lodging house as so defined in this chapter.
A. 
Every person, firm, corporation, or like entity in applying for a license to conduct, use, operate, or maintain a lodging house shall submit with its application the following information:
(1) 
The name and address of a permanent resident of the City of Buffalo who shall be the agent and responsible for the management of said lodging house. The Commissioner shall approve of any proposed agent and the agent shall obtain a license in accordance with § 269-5. This requirement shall not apply to those lodging houses exempt from providing an agent as also provided for in § 269-5G.
(2) 
A description of the property by street number, the number of rooming units on the premises, the number and location of rooms and beds to be used for lodging house purposes on the premises.
(3) 
The number of persons occupying each rooming unit.
(4) 
A plan or diagram of the lot containing the lodging house and of each floor in the building, showing all dimensions, doors, windows, closets, water closets, bathrooms, staircases and means of exit.
B. 
Such information shall be filed annually with the Erie County Department of Health, unless the applicant shall state, under affidavit, that no changes have been made affecting the previous plan or diagram filed.
A. 
The application for a lodging house license shall be prepared by and obtained from the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services. The application shall require only such information as is pertinent to the conduct, use, occupancy and maintenance of a lodging house together with all information required pursuant to this chapter. All applicants shall produce satisfactory photo identification as a part of the application process, as well as sufficient proof of residency if claiming to reside on the premises.
B. 
All applications for a lodging house shall be referred to the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services for his/her approval. The Commissioner shall cause an inspection of the premises to ensure that the building or structure is in compliance with all applicable zoning and building codes. The referral shall be returned with a recommendation for approval or disapproval of the application. All disapprovals must state the basis therefor in writing.
C. 
All applications for a lodging house shall be referred to the Department of Fire for approval and to ensure that the premises are in compliance with all applicable fire and Safety Codes. The referral shall be returned with a recommendation for approval or disapproval of the application. All disapprovals must state the basis therefor in writing.
D. 
All applications for a lodging house license issued under this chapter shall be referred to the Commissioner of Police, who shall promptly cause an investigation to be made into the criminal background and moral character of the applicant. The Commissioner of Police shall also cause an investigation into the relevant criminal history at the premises. The Commissioner of Police shall investigate and report such findings and make a recommendation to the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services as to whether or not approval and issuance of the license is recommended. If approval is not recommended, such report shall state the reasons therefor in writing.
E. 
All applications for a lodging house license shall be referred to the Erie County Department of Health for approval as to conditions of health and sanitation. If the County fails to respond within 90 days of its referral, the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services may issue license if deemed appropriate after an inspection by the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services, and all other necessary approvals have been met.
F. 
All new applications for a lodging house license shall be referred to the Common Council for approval.
A. 
No individual shall be permitted to serve as agent as provided in this chapter without first obtaining a license from the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services upon the approval of the Commissioner.
B. 
Prospective agents shall appear in person in the offices of the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services and shall be required to complete a license application as provided by the Department.
C. 
All prospective agents shall produce satisfactory photo identification as a part of the application process, as well as sufficient proof of residency.
D. 
The Commissioner may disapprove of a proposed agent if in his/her discretion the proposed agent is unqualified or unfit. In determining whether an agent is qualified or fit, the Commissioner may consider factors including but not limited to:
(1) 
The moral character of the agent;
(2) 
Relevant experience of the agent;
(3) 
The degree of supervision deemed appropriate at the premises;
(4) 
The number of occupants residing at the premises;
(5) 
Occupant safety; and
(6) 
Any other relevant factors.
E. 
Moral character of prospective agent. All applications for licenses to serve as agents issued under this chapter shall be referred to the Commissioner of Police, who shall promptly cause an investigation to be made into the criminal background and moral character of the applicant. The Commissioner of Police shall investigate and report such findings and make a recommendation to the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services as to whether or not approval and issuance of the license is recommended. If approval is not recommended, such report shall state the reasons therefor.
F. 
Suspension or revocation of agent's license. An agent's license issued pursuant to this chapter may be revoked or suspended for cause after notice and hearing by the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services. The Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services may designate an Administrative Law Judge, who shall be an attorney admitted to practice in the State of New York for at least three years, to administer hearings held pursuant to this chapter. Said Administrative Law Judge shall recommend to the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services whether a license should be revoked or suspended after notice and hearing.
G. 
Exemption from agent requirements. Lodging houses that contain full bathrooms in each rooming unit, maintain and staff twenty-four-hour-a-day registration desks, and provide rooming unit doors equipped with outer door locking devices requiring separate keys to gain entrance shall be exempt from all licensed agent requirements contained in this chapter.
H. 
Licenses issued to agents are nontransferable in accordance with § 269-10. Should the owner or lodging house licensee for any reason change agents, he/she shall notify the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services in writing, and the prospective agent shall appear and apply for a license as required under this chapter. The prospective agent may not serve as agent without the approval of the Commissioner and issuance of a license.
A lodging house license shall expire on the first day of February next after issuance. Applications for reissuance of a license may be made 30 days prior to the expiration date and shall in any event be made not later than January 31 next after its original issuance. Each applicant for reissuance shall be required to submit a new application therefor.
A. 
Every lodging house which lodges five or more persons shall procure a certificate of occupancy, as provided for in the Multiple Dwelling Law or Chapter 129 of the Charter and Code of the City of Buffalo.
B. 
No lodging house license shall be issued pursuant to this chapter unless the applicant for said license shall first register the proposed lodging house with the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services.
Every lodging establishment shall have, keep and maintain a register in a suitable place on the premises, and every person applying for a room, bed or cot shall register his or her name and address therein. Said register shall be open to the police for inspection.
A. 
A license issued pursuant to this chapter may be revoked or suspended for cause after hearing by the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services. The Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services may designate an Administrative Law Judge, who shall be an attorney admitted to practice in the State of New York for at least three years, to administer hearings held pursuant to this chapter. Said Administrative Law Judge shall recommend to the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services whether a license should be revoked or suspended after notice and hearing.
B. 
Any violation of or failure to comply with any of the laws or ordinances applicable to a lodging house shall be cause for revocation. The Commissioner or his designee may also consider such factors including, but not limited to, the nature and disposition of any notices of violation from the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication issued for conduct at the property; and the nature and frequency of complaints about the property generated from, among other sources, Police Department incident reports, 911 calls, property inspection reports and other verifiable information reported to the City.
A lodging house license issued hereunder (as well as any license issued to an agent under this chapter) is not transferable and shall be kept posted in a conspicuous location in the main entrance hallway of such lodging house at all times. The name of the agent (if applicable) as well as a telephone number and room number or location whereby the agent may be reached in the case of an emergency shall also be posted and displayed in a conspicuous location in the main hallway at all times, except for those lodging houses exempt from the agent requirement as set forth in § 269-5G.
Any person, firm, corporation, or like entity occupying, operating, using or maintaining any lodging house in violation of the provisions of this chapter may be liable for penalties as prescribed in Chapter 137 of this Code, and any lodging house found operating without a license may be subjected to the immediate closure by the Buffalo Police Department and/or the Department of Economic Development and Permits and Inspection Services.
The Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of Economic Development and Permit and Inspection Services, the Department of Fire and the Department of Police shall be given free access to all parts of any lodging house at any reasonable hour.
The license fee for each lodging house license and lodging house agent license shall be as provided in Chapter 175, Fees.
This chapter shall not apply to hospitals, orphan asylums or charitable or nonprofit institutions.