[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Elmira 9-21-2015 by L.L. No. 3-2015. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board 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 people of the Town. The intent of this chapter is to regulate the offering for rental of dwelling units by owners who have demonstrated a disregard for the timely management and maintenance of rental dwelling units in an effort to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the people of the Town and to further achieve the following beneficial purposes:
The protection of the character and stability of residential areas;
The correction and prevention of housing conditions that adversely affect or are likely to adversely affect the life, safety, general welfare and health, including the physical, mental and social well-being of persons occupying dwellings;
The enforcement of minimum standards for heating, plumbing and other sanitary equipment necessary for health and safety;
The enforcement of minimum standards for light and ventilation necessary for health and safety;
The enforcement of minimum standards for the maintenance of existing residential buildings and the prevention of slum and blight conditions;
The preservation of the value of land and buildings throughout the Town;
The protection of responsible owners of rental dwelling units who responsibly and timely manage and maintain their rental dwelling units. The Town Board finds that responsible owners not in violation of this chapter shall not be subject to the probationary certification procedure contained in this chapter.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- A person or entity designated by the owner on the registry form who by such owner designation shall have the authority to make decisions regarding the management and maintenance of any and all dwelling units owned by the owner and located within the Town.
- A structure containing one or more dwelling units rented or being offered for rental.
- The state uniform fire prevention and building code, as amended.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer of the Town or his designee.
- The Town's Code Enforcement Department.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A single residential accommodation which is arranged, designed, used or, if vacant, intended for use exclusively as a domicile or residence of one or more persons.
- The owner or owners of the fee of the premises or lesser estate therein, a mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee or agent.
- An individual or any entity which lawfully can be the fee owner of real property.
- PROBATIONARY CERTIFICATION
- As provided for in this chapter.
It shall be an unclassified misdemeanor for any person or owner to violate the provisions of this chapter and such violation shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $1,000 or up to six months in jail, or both. In addition to any other civil right or remedy, the Town also may commence a civil action seeking a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.
Rental housing certification. Upon the effective date of the local law from which this chapter is derived, all owners of rental housing in the Town shall be deemed not to be in violation of the provisions of this chapter and, therefore, shall be considered to be certified to rent rental dwelling units in the Town.
Probationary certification required. A person must obtain a rental housing probationary certification before such person shall allow to be occupied, or rent or lease to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit if the building in which the dwelling unit is located or the building premises, after the effective date of the local law from which this chapter is derived:
Has been issued by the Town three or more initial notices and orders to remedy within any consecutive twelve-month period when no substantial progress in remedying the violations was made within the time period set forth in the initial notice and order;
Had three or more nuisance abatements including but not limited to miscellaneous refuse, grass (Chapter 73) or safety and health (Chapter 82) abatements conducted by the Town within any consecutive six-month period;
Has been the location of three or more police responses within any consecutive six-month period (police responses shall include animal enforcement responses but not responses for medical reasons, other than for medical complaints arising from acts which may constitute a penal law violation or crime, shall not be included) and the Town's Police Chief has ordered probationary certification; or
The owner of a building meeting any of the criteria set forth in § 171-4 must obtain a rental housing probationary certification for each rental housing building meeting any such criterion within 20 days of becoming subject to this certification requirement. The certification application shall be on a form furnished by the Code Enforcement Officer and shall set forth the following information, in addition to other information required by the Code Enforcement Officer. Failure to provide such information shall be grounds to deny the probationary certification.
Designation by street address of all buildings owned by the owner within the Town containing rental housing units.
Owner's name, principal residence address, principal business address, phone numbers (post office box address is not permitted to be used) and email address.
Proof that the owner is in compliance with this Code pertaining to registration of rental housing.
Before issuance of a probationary certification, the owner shall:
Pay in full all unpaid abatement charges owed the Town pertaining to any of the owner's buildings and premises, which charges were incurred after the effective date of the local law from which this chapter is derived; and
Deposit or deliver to the Town a surety in an amount equal to twice the total paid and any unpaid abatement charges for all of the owner's buildings during the immediately preceding 12 consecutive months prior to the date of submission of the certification application if the owner is required to obtain a certification because the owner is in violation of the provisions of § 171-4B. Upon transfer of a probationary certification pursuant to § 171-7, the new owner shall deposit or deliver to the Town a surety if after acquiring ownership said owner is in violation of the provisions of § 171-4B, said surety to be in an amount as set forth hereinabove. The surety shall be cash, an irrevocable letter of credit, or an insurance bond in a form acceptable to the corporation counsel. The Town shall have the right to recover the cost of any future abatement pertaining to any of owner's rental housing buildings from the surety.
At the time of submission of the certification application form, the owner shall pay to the Town a certification fee of $1,000; provided, however, this fee shall not be due if the owner is applying for a probationary certification solely due to the owner's failure to register a building pursuant to Chapter 170.
A certification issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire two years after the date of issuance, unless sooner revoked pursuant to § 171-8. If during the term of the certification the rental housing building subject to the certification is not in violation of any of the criteria set forth in § 171-4B, then the owner will not be required to reapply for a new probationary certification and any surety balance will be returned by the Town to the owner at the end of the term. If, however, during the term of the probationary certification the rental housing building subject to the certification meets any of the criteria set forth in § 171-4B, then the probationary certification is automatically extended for two years from the date of the new determination unless sooner revoked pursuant to § 171-8. If the extension occurs solely or partly because of the occurrence of the criterion set forth in § 171-4B(2), then the owner must comply with § 171-5B(1). If the certification is extended, the owner shall pay to the Town a renewal certification fee of $1,000.
Upon a change in ownership of any building or premises which is the subject of a probationary certification at the time of transfer, said certification shall continue to apply to the building or premises for the remaining term of said certification as determined by § 171-6. The new owner shall comply with the Town's chapter pertaining to rental housing registration. The Town shall return to the grantor the balance of any surety being held pursuant to § 171-5.
Probationary certification. During the probationary certification term, if any residential housing building subject to the certification meets any of the criteria set forth in § 171-4B(1), (2) or (3), the Town may revoke the certification. Prior to such revocation, the Department shall serve on the owner by certified mail, return receipt, and first class mail or by personal service, a notice of the Town's intent to revoke the certification with respect to the rental housing buildings subject to the certification. The notice shall specify whether the proposed revocation applies to all or some of owner's residential housing buildings, if to some the specific address of the potentially impacted building; the grounds for the proposed revocation, and the date, time and place of a hearing to be conducted before a person designated by the Town Supervisor. The designee shall make a record of the hearing and shall refer the record together with his recommendation to the Town Supervisor for review and decision. The owner may be represented by counsel and shall be allowed to summon witnesses in his behalf. The Town shall have the burden of proving the grounds for revocation. Compliance with technical rules of evidence shall not be required.
Upon revocation of a probationary certification, the owner and agent, if any, of the building subject to the certification shall not continue to rent or begin to rent any dwelling unit within the building for a period of six months from the date of revocation or date of correction of all cited Code violations, whichever period is longer. The superintendent of buildings shall cause to be posted conspicuously on the owner's building containing a rental dwelling unit a shutdown notice stating substantially as follows: "These premises are uncertified pursuant to Chapter 171 of the Code of the Town of Elmira and the use and occupancy of the building is prohibited effective 30 days from the date of this notice, and thereafter no person shall enter the building except for the purpose of making repairs, maintenance and security."