Under a law already in effect, the Town of East Hampton limits rentals of fewer than fifteen days to twice in a six-month period. On December 15, 2015, Local Law No. 38 was adopted, which requires landlords to register their properties for rental with the Town’s Building’s Department. Applications are expected to be available on the Town’s website in mid to late January and accepted starting February 1st. Enforcement is expected to begin May 1st. The Law, as does the fifteen-day rule, applies only in the unincorporated areas of the Town.
In its legislative intent, the Town states that there are “rising concerns and incidences of single-family residences being overcrowded, utilized as share houses, motels or other transient housing accommodations, multi-family residences and two-family residences.” It further states, in part, “to insure compliance with legal usage of properties…and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of rental property occupants as well as the community at large, the Town requires more and better information and regulation of rental properties.”
Unlike the Rental Permit Law in effect in the Town of Southampton, the new East Hampton law does not require a rental permit, but it does require that the landlord demonstrate that the property complies with Town zoning and building codes. It also requires that in advertising the property, the rental registration number procured from the Buildings Department must be included.
To learn about the responsibilities of real estate agents representing landlords, I spoke with Michael Sendlenski of the Town Attorney’s Office. “Agents should be aware of the provisions of the law and make sure the owners and the properties they represent are in compliance,” he noted. “That being said, there is nothing in the new Code provisions that impart liability on a real estate agent other than the normal duties to lease a legal premises pursuant to their licensure requirements.” Mr. Sendlenski further added, “The biggest impact on agents will be that published advertisements will need to contain registry numbers, otherwise the Town can bring charges against the property owner. Furthermore, agents should be sure that their clients are informed about fourteen-day rule.”
I also posed the question regarding the real estate agent’s responsibility to Anthony Gatto, Director of Legal Services for the New York State Association of Realtors, and an expert on New York License Law who works closely with the New York Department of State that regulates real estate agents. His perspective was as follows: “I would look at it the same as renting without a Certificate of Occupancy,” for which Mr. Gatto provided Department of State rulings penalizing real estate agents by issuing fines, suspending and revoking their licenses to practice real estate.
It is important to note, that both the landlords and the tenants may be prosecuted for violation of this law, which may result in fines up to $30,000 and up to six months in jail. It also confers jurisdiction on courts and judicial officers to deem these violations as misdemeanors, a crime with both financial penalties and imprisonment. Upon motion of the prosecuting attorney for the Town, the court may dismiss the violations or reduce the penalties where it finds that the defendant had cooperated with the Town in the investigation and violation of the law.
A full reading of the law and its penalties is available on the Town of East Hampton website.