Cobleskill landlords blast proposed law again

A crowd spilled from the meeting room into the hall Tuesday as landlords reiterated their opposition

A crowd spilled from the meeting room into the hall Tuesday as landlords reiterated their opposition to a proposed village law that would require annual inspections of apartments and business properties and charge a $35 per unit registration fee.

“This [law] will result in less money being put back into buildings,” said Duane Miller who rents out a single apartment in his Grandview Drive house.

“The village will take … tens of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of the business people,” he added.

Miller noted that current state law requires fire and maintenance inspections of multiple dwellings every three years. He pointed out that landlords can’t inspect tenants’ apartments without their permission.

Hammerstone/Jay Ridge apartments owner Eric Dolen, one of the largest commercial landlords with 196 apartments in the village, echoed Miller’s complaints, as did several other commercial property owners.

“You have a fine [existing] law, but in the past nobody has enforced it,” Dolen said. “We don’t need a new law. We just need to use the old law correctly.”

Dolen said his survey of community regulations from Colonie to Oneonta indicates the state inspection rule is “accomplishing what you want … without fees.”

About 50 people, most apparently present to protest the landlord law, crowded Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

Main Street building owner Calvin Wilcox said if inspection requirements are increased and annual fees imposed, it will hurt efforts to revitalize the village core business area.

If landlords are burdened by additional costs, Wilcox said, “we can’t revitalize downtown buildings.”

Village Code Enforcement Officer Michael Piccolo requested the new rules, drafted over the past few months, contending the stricter proposals were especially needed for safety reasons because of the high turnover of college students renting apartments.

The Village Board took no action on the proposed law, which has remained tabled for further review since a public hearing drew strong opposition Dec. 18.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Sellers said the board expects to modify the proposed regulations, “or maybe start from scratch.”

Miller argued that the law is unnecessary as well as “poorly written and ambiguous.”

“Student housing today is better than it ever was,” Miller said.

Objection was also raised about a proposal to require any landlord who lives outside the village to designate a resident agent within the village.

Some landlords, including Dolen, live only a few miles outside the village, but would be classified as absentee landlords the way the proposed law is drafted.

Mayor Mike Sellers said the Village Board is considering changing that requirement, possibly to allow any county resident to be the designated agent or property manager.

Howard Burt Jr., owner of 12 apartments in three buildings along Golding Drive, said inspections of common areas in commercial buildings or some sort of registration requirement to ensure that absentee landlords can be contacted makes sense.

“The concerns can be addressed by enforcement … and common sense,” Burt said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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