The Village of New Paltz notched a major legal victory in their ongoing dispute with the New Paltz Property Owners Association, (NPPOA), over a law regarding annual rental inspections.
On Feb. 4, Senior Judge Thomas McAvoy of the Northern District of U.S. District Court dismissed the civil rights case filed by NPPOA against the village. According to the Times Herald-Record, the village law in question required “property owners to pay for temporary housing of tenants if their rooms don’t meet new annual inspection standards.”
The NPPOA filed a lawsuit in March 2015, arguing that the law infringed on their 4th and 14th Amendment rights. The 4th Amendment, as written in the U.S. Constitution, states that it is “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…”
Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers questioned NPPOA’s claim that the village’s law was violating their 4th Amendment rights.
“I thought it was interesting that their argument was based on the idea that their 4th Amendment rights were somehow being violated by this law,” Rogers said. “Annual rental inspections are important to protect residents and even landlords.”
According to Village of New Paltz Housing Code Article II, Chapter 129-8, the village can order landlords to provide temporary housing for renters if their rental property fails any inspection standards. Such inspection regulations include the lack of “running water, heat or heat source, electricity, sanitary facilities, windows in sleeping spaces, cooking facilities and/or smoke/carbon monoxide detector(s) or there is the presence of black mold…”
Saying it was not the first action pursued by NPPOA against the village, Rogers said he was glad to see the case dismissed in federal court.
“It’s a relief not to continue to pay these attorneys to fight this litigation,” Rogers said. “Litigation is a massive expense for the taxpayers of our community and I’m glad it’s over.”
Rogers described the process as a tedious one with several trips to Albany with Will Frank, the village’s attorney. He said that at the time of the case’s dismissal, the village and NPPOA were still attending mediation hearings.
After the dismissal, Rogers said he spoke with other village trustees who were pleased to hear that the legislation was affirmed. Rogers said he hadn’t yet spoken to former Village Mayor Jason West about the ruling but did say that West had long been an advocate for housing reform for renters in the village.
Careful to not lay blame on all landlords in the community, Rogers said that the vast majority of landlords take their business seriously and see the positive aspects of the law.
“We believe these standards assure residents a safe product,” Rogers said. “In the long run, it benefits landlords, too. I’ve talked to many landlords who say these rental inspections allow prospective students and their parents to trust them and rent from them. That in turn provides them with more business.”