City of Cortland, NY
Cortland County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
This chapter will be known as the "Cortland Rental Housing Law," and will be referred to as such in this chapter.
The Common Council (Council) has determined that there exist in the City of Cortland issues arising from the rental of dwelling units that may be substandard or in violation of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, the New York State Multiple Residence Law, or other state codes or local codes; dwelling units that are inadequate in size, overcrowded and dangerous, that tend to promote or encourage deterioration of the housing stock of the City, create blight, excessive vehicular traffic and parking problems and that tend to overburden municipal services. The Council finds that the City has transient residents, many of whom occupy rental housing within the City and whose members have generated a disproportionate number of complaints of public nuisances, including but not limited to noise, property damage, and property neglect; that the current Code of the City of Cortland lacks sufficient incentives for owners to regulate the conduct of their tenants; and that the City Code lacks sufficient safeguards on the population densities of rental housing. The Council further finds that current City Code provisions must be enforced to halt the proliferation of such conditions and that the public health, safety, welfare, good order and governance of the City will be enhanced by enactment of the regulations set forth in this chapter, which regulations are remedial in nature and effect.
This chapter supplements and/or incorporates the requirements contained in the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, the New York State Multiple Residence Law and the Zoning Law of the City of Cortland. In the event of a conflict between the aforementioned codes and this chapter, the most restrictive requirements shall prevail to the extent permitted under applicable law. This chapter is intended to supplement rather than supersede existing New York State law and the other chapters of the City Code.
A. 
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to the maintenance, repair, use and occupancy of all residential buildings and structures now in existence or hereafter constructed, rehabilitated, renovated or converted to residential use within the City of Cortland where the building or structure is being used in any capacity for rental housing, except those buildings and structures specifically excluded from the provisions of this chapter and public nuisance structures as defined herein. Any structure that was in compliance on the day previous to the adoption of this chapter will be allowed to remain, except if:
(1) 
Such structure is substantially damaged by fire or other causes. In the event that the existing use is nonconforming in any respect as to this chapter or the City of Cortland Zoning Law, the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the structure shall be subject to the nonconforming use provisions of Article XII of the City of Cortland Zoning Law;
(2) 
Any state, county or local code requires changes to existing structures.
B. 
The legal occupancy of any rental building or structure existing on the date of adoption of this chapter shall be permitted to continue without change, except such changes as are specifically required to be made to existing rental buildings or structures in this chapter, the New York State Multiple Residence Law and the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
C. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to change the validity of or requirements for a certificate of occupancy under the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
D. 
Exceptions. The provisions of this chapter do not apply to:
(1) 
Buildings, structures and uses owned and operated by any governmental unit or governmental agency, including the State of New York, the State University College at Cortland, or the County of Cortland;
(2) 
Single-family dwellings occupied by a record titleholder;
(3) 
Two-family dwellings, with at least one dwelling unit occupied by the record titleholder;
(4) 
Transient shelters and group homes subject to state inspection;
(5) 
Residential structures of which ownership passes to a governmental unit;
(6) 
Hotels or motels;
(7) 
Tourist homes or bed-and-breakfast dwellings; and
(8) 
Nursing homes, intermediate-care nursing homes or convalescent dwellings.
E. 
Where a nonresidential business or activity or a state-licensed or state-approved use occupies a portion of a building and the building contains premises which would otherwise be subject to this chapter, this chapter shall be and remain applicable to the residential and common or public areas of such building and premises.
Unless otherwise expressly stated or the context clearly indicates a different intention, the following terms have the following meanings and shall be so construed wherever they appear in this chapter.
APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY
The Code Enforcement Office.
BED-AND-BREAKFAST or TOURIST HOME
A single-family dwelling occupied and used by the owner of such dwelling as his/her principal residence, and within such dwelling unit there are not more than four accessory guest rooms whose occupants' stay shall not exceed seven days and for which a morning meal only is provided.
BEDROOM
Any room or space used or intended to be used for sleeping purposes.
CIVIL PENALTY
A penalty levied by the Code Enforcement Officer against an existing permittee in accordance with this chapter.
CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICE
The division within the City charged with the duty to inspect dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, premises and structures for compliance with this chapter, and may also mean, as the context indicates, a member of that division.
CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
The person designated by the Mayor or Common Council to issue permits pursuant to the New York State General City Law, the administrator of the Code Enforcement Office or his/her designee. Nothing herein shall be deemed to require the Mayor or Common Council to delegate permitting authority to the Code Enforcement Officer. The designated officer shall be the authorized representative for the enforcement of this chapter and for the administration of the division.
CODE OFFICIAL
Also referenced as the Code Enforcement Officer, the person appointed by the Mayor or Common Council pursuant to the New York State General City Law to issue permits; and the person charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter, or any duly authorized representative thereof.
COMMON AREAS
The areas within a two-family or multiple dwelling that are available for common use by all tenants of all dwelling units. Examples include but are not limited to:
A. 
Lobbies.
B. 
Corridors.
C. 
Stairways.
D. 
Washing machines and laundry rooms.
E. 
Roof.
F. 
Elevators.
G. 
Washrooms in lobby areas.
H. 
Storerooms.
I. 
Basements.
J. 
Attic.
DWELLING UNIT
A single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
EXTERIOR PROPERTY
The open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators of such premises.
HABITABLE SPACE
Space in a structure for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Bathrooms, toilet rooms, closets, halls, storage or utility space and similar areas are not considered habitable spaces.
MULTIPLE DWELLING
Any building containing more than two dwelling units or rooming units.
OWNER
The record titleholder or contract purchaser, property manager, tenant under a recorded lease or any executor, administrator, trustee, conservator or other fiduciary, mortgagee or lienholder thereof; an agent for the receipt of notice, legal process or other service or any individual acting in a fiduciary capacity for the record titleholder or contract purchaser.
OWNER'S AGENT
Any person, company, corporation or other entity that has the authority to act on behalf of or in the place of the owner.
PERMITTEE
An owner who has been issued a rental permit within the preceding 36 months.
PERSON
Any natural person and any entity that is recognized by law as having the rights and obligations of a natural person.
RECORD TITLEHOLDER
Any person holding title of record by deed, contract of sale, or judicial determination.
REGISTERED COMPLAINT
Any oral or written communication or personal observation upon which the Code Enforcement Officer has probable cause to believe that additional investigation is required to verify compliance with this chapter.
RENTAL AGREEMENT
A written or oral agreement embodying and fixing the terms and conditions for the transfer of possession and the use and occupancy of premises, whether or not for a definite period of time.
A. 
Dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, two-family dwellings, or multiple dwellings which are occupied by one or more persons, none of whom is a record titleholder; or
B. 
Dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, two-family dwellings, or multiple dwellings which are used for residential purposes under the terms of a rental agreement.
ROOMING/BOARDINGHOUSE
Dwelling providing lodging and meals for monetary compensation for three or more nontransient guests. No private kitchen facilities shall be provided to guests.
ROOMING UNIT
Any room or group of rooms forming a single habitable unit occupied or intended to be occupied for sleeping or living, but not for cooking purposes.
TENANT
A person, corporation, partnership or group, not the legal owner of record, occupying a dwelling unit or portion thereof as a unit.
TWO-FAMILY DWELLING
A building of two dwelling units, separated by common walls and/or floors. It may or may not have a direct entrance from the outside to each dwelling unit.