A landlord group has filed a lawsuit against the Village of New Paltz for its recently-enacted law that requires them to pay for their tenant’s temporary housing if the rental property is condemned.
The New Paltz Property Owners Association filed the lawsuit with claims that the housing law violates their constitutional rights, according to an article released by The Times-Herald Record last month. The law, drafted by current village mayor Jason West, was put into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
According to the law, the owner of the property must pay for the tenant’s temporary housing until the lease expires, the property receives a certificate of occupancy, or the displaced tenant chooses to live elsewhere at their own expense.
The law also states that landlords may not be issued a violation by the building inspector if problems found with the property during the inspection are fixed within 24 hours.
According to village trustee and renter Rebecca Rotzler, the law is in place to help ensure that property owners are providing safe living quarters for their tenants.
“Housing has to be safe – there’s no way around that,” Rotzler said. “I’ve heard arguments that rent will go up with result of [the law.] If a building isn’t safe, the owner of that property has the responsibility to remedy that.”
This is not the first time this year that village housing legislation has received backlash from property owners. In late March, Adele Rugar of the New Paltz Property Owner’s Association spoke at a SUNY New Paltz student senate meeting to inform students of a housing law passed in January that she claimed to be imitative over students wishing to move off-campus with more than two housemates.
At the time of print, Rugar was unable to be reached for comment in regards to the legislation that prompted the current lawsuit.
The law in question was developed because building inspectors were finding it increasingly difficult to enforce the laws already in existence surrounding the mending of inspection violations.
“This law is the major tool the Village has to ensure the safety of rental properties,” Mayor West said in an article published in the SUNY New Paltz student publication The Little Rebellion. “I’m hoping it will help to raise the standard of living for everyone in the village.”
The inspections themselves are performed annually on every rental property in the village by one of the village’s three licensed inspectors who look at the property as well as the building’s interior and exterior. Violations vary from defective smoke detectors to insufficient lighting and bed bug infestation.
At the time of the law’s passing, concerns from landlords focused in on the strict time restrictions allotted to remedy the violations after the inspection. Legislation critics said that some problems with the property that are considered violations may have been caused by nature and were not a result of landlord neglect; landlords pressed that they should have more time to fix these issues.