[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Niagara as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 11-15-2011 by L.L. No. 5-2011]
The Town of Niagara hereby finds and declares that the rental of dwelling units constitutes a business which impacts upon the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Town of Niagara. Residential rental properties may become a haven for various criminal or disruptive activities that can result in disorder in our community and affect the quality of life of others in the Town of Niagara.
The Town Board of the Town of Niagara desires to minimize and control the adverse effects caused by illegal and nuisance activities which may occur at residential rental properties, thereby protecting the health, safety and welfare of our citizens; and preserving the quality of life, property values and the character of neighborhoods and businesses.
It is the purpose of this article to implement a registration requirement for residential rental property owners in order to curb criminal activity and disorder on residential rental properties in the Town of Niagara.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
- Unlawful activity consisting of drug activity, weapons possession, assault, domestic violence, murder, assault, sexual assault, gang activity or other activity proscribed by the Penal Law of the State of New York.
- A single-family, two-family or multifamily residence or dwelling which is rented or for rent.
- DWELLING UNIT
- An individual rental unit in a dwelling.
- The owner or owners of a dwelling, or a mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee or agent.
- POLICE REPORT
- A report issued by a Town Police Officer after said officer has responded to a complaint alleging the occurrence of criminal activity or a public nuisance.
- PROPERTY MANAGER
- A person or other entity designated by the owner to manage a dwelling on behalf of the owner.
- PUBLIC NUISANCE
- Activities affecting the quality of life of residents of the Town of Niagara, including violations of the New York State Penal Law, disorderly conduct, alcohol-related incidents or violations of the Code of the Town of Niagara which are enforced by the Town Police Department.
- Any person who rents a dwelling unit from an owner in the Town of Niagara.
License required. No person shall allow a dwelling unit to be occupied or rented to another for occupancy unless the owner has first obtained a rental housing business license as hereafter provided.
Exemptions. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to motels; bed-and-breakfast establishments; rooming houses or boardinghouses; hospitals; nursing homes; or other dwelling units which offer or provide medical or nursing services if such units are subject to state or federal licensing or regulations concerning the safety of the users, patients or tenants.
Application for license. Within 30 days after the effective date of this article, the owner of each dwelling shall make written application for a rental housing business license to the Town Clerk's office. Such application shall be on a form furnished by the Town and shall set forth the following information, in addition to other information required by the Town which, from time to time, the Town deems necessary to administer, enforce and ensure compliance with the provisions of this article. Failure to provide such information shall be grounds to deny a rental housing business license:
Names, addresses (business and residence) and telephone number(s) (business and residence) of owner;
If the owner is an association, limited liability company, partnership, joint tenancy, tenancy in common or tenancy by the entirety, then the name, address and telephone number of each and every owner, member or general partner shall be indicated on the application;
If the owner is a corporation, the principal place of business of the corporation must be provided, along with the name, title and residence address of all officers, directors and managing/general agents which must be included on the application;
If the owner has designated an agent or managing company to assist the owner with the management of the property, then the name, principal residence address, principal business address and telephone number of such agent or managing company must be included on the application;
It shall be the responsibility of the owner to properly register any change of address, change of agent or change of any other pertinent information with the Town;
For purposes of this article, a post office box shall not be accepted as the owner's business or residence address. Furthermore, the dwelling intended to be licensed shall not be accepted as the owner's address unless it is the principal place or residence of the owner;
For purposes of this article, if the owner does not reside in or have its place of business in the County of Niagara, then the owner must have a property manager located in the County of Niagara. If the owner does not reside or have a business located in the County of Niagara, then the owner must designate a property manager located in the County of Niagara who can accept service of process.
The owner shall specify the address to which all notices and invoices for fees are to be forwarded.
License application fee. The application fee for a landlord license under this article shall as set forth from time to time by resolution of the Town Board.
Issuance or denial of license. After receipt of the owner's application for a rental housing business license, the Town Clerk's office shall review same to ensure said application contains all of the required information. If the application is deemed complete, the Town Clerk's office, within 30 days, shall forward the owner a rental housing business license. If said application is deemed incomplete, the Town Clerk's office shall notify the owner, and the owner shall have 30 days in which to supply the required information. If the required information is not supplied by the owner, the application shall be denied.
Effect of failure to make application or denial of rental housing business license. If the owner does not submit the rental housing business license application or fails to supply all of the information required on the application, the owner shall be subject to the following fines:
For each thirty-day period until an acceptable application is submitted: $500 per owner.
Recourse if fine is not paid. If the owner neglects or refuses to pay the fine(s) as stated in Subsection F of this section within 30 days after notification, the Town shall add any such fine(s) onto the owner's property tax bill, and it shall become a lien on the property/dwelling.
Term of license. A rental housing business license issued pursuant to this article shall be valid for a period of two years after its issuance, unless sooner revoked pursuant to this article.
Nontransferability of license. A rental housing business license issued pursuant to this article shall not be transferable to any person who has acquired ownership of a dwelling. A new owner is required to file a new application for a rental housing business license within 30 days after acquiring ownership.
In the event that the Town police officer who responds to the dwelling unit for reports of criminal activity or public nuisance activity at the dwelling unit finds that said activity was engaged in or facilitated by the renter, member of the household, guest or other party under the control of the renter, and issues a police report for same, the Town Clerk's office shall forward a notice to the owner or property manager stating that there was criminal activity or public nuisance activity on the dwelling property. The owner or property manager shall then take appropriate action to notify the tenant to cease any such activity, or evict said tenant. In the event that there are any subsequent incidents at the dwelling unit in the same calendar year in the same dwelling unit relating to activity engaged in, or facilitated by the same renter or a member of his/her household, guest or other party under the control of said renter, the Town Clerk's office will forward by first class mail a second notice of criminal activity or public nuisance activity to the owner or property manager. Subsequent incidents in the same calendar year at the same dwelling unit will be followed by a notice to the owner or property manager, along with a notice of the imposition of the following fines:
If the owner or property manager submits information to the Town Clerk's office that it is in the process of evicting the tenant in whose dwelling unit the criminal or public nuisance activity is occurring, future impositions of fines will cease. In the event that the owner neglects or refuses to pay the fine(s) as stated in this section within 30 days after notification, the Town shall add such fine(s) onto the property/dwelling's property tax bill, and it shall become a lien on the property/dwelling.
The owner or property manager of a dwelling under this article is encouraged to utilize a crime free/crime prevention lease addendum, an example of which is annexed to this article, to assist the owner or property manager with the eviction of tenants who continue to conduct criminal or public nuisance activity in the dwelling unit.
Editor's Note: The addendum is on file in the Town offices.
The owner of each dwelling is required to maintain information concerning all of its tenants, including the number and names of all occupants, and the full address and telephone numbers of all tenants. In the event of criminal or public nuisance activity on the property, the owner or property manager shall cooperate with the Town Police Department by providing this information to the Town Police Department if so requested.
Any owner or property manager who is notified of a fine under this article shall have the right to appeal the imposition of said fine to the Town Board of the Town of Niagara. A written request for an appeal shall be made by the owner or property manager within 30 days after the date of the communication notifying the owner or property manager of the fine. The Town Board shall schedule a hearing within 30 days after receipt of said request for appeal. The owner or property manager shall appear at the hearing in person and shall have the right to representation by a person or attorney of his or her choice. The owner, property manager or his/her representative shall provide sworn testimony at said hearing. An appeal to the Town Board will stay the imposition of the fine until it renders its decision. The Town Board shall thereafter issue its written decision to uphold the fine or rescind the fine.
This article shall be applicable to all dwellings located in the Town of Niagara.