In the last two years, we have achieved a large number of victories. What follows is a partial list.
Town of Brookhaven Code Changes
- The number of unrelated individuals who can occupy a single family home with a rental registration has been reduced from 8 to no more than 4.
- The definition of “family” now places the burden of proof on the landlord, not the Town, to prove a group of tenants is indeed operating as a family.
- The revised definition of “separate kitchens” now includes those items one would expect to have in a student’s room.
- The length of the rental registration has been reduced from 2 years down to 15 months. This is so that the renewal of the rental registration will at some point fall during a semester when students occupy these homes.
- Maximum fines for violations of the town code have been raised from $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 for first time violations.
- Driveway size not to exceed 35% of frontal property or 24 Ft. in width.
- All home inspectors must now be NYS Uniform and Fire Prevention Building Code certified.
- The number of cars parked at a rental residence must not exceed the number of bedrooms allowed for that residence.
Town of Brookhaven Procedural Changes
- Supervisor Romaine has instructed his staff to give every prospective landlord, who appears at the building department requesting a rental registration, a current copy of the Town codes as it relates to whole house rentals. The Town of Brookhaven’s internal workflow and communication between the Town Law Department and the Building Department is being reinforced.
- Landlords will now be asked to sign a document acknowledging they understand and agree to obey the laws regarding these types of rental homes. Any violations of the codes they agreed to will result in revocation of the permit.
- Landlords will no longer be given a permit until all outstanding violations are satisfied.
- The Town is in the process of updating of its web site . The information will include all whole house rentals and the expiration date of the current permit.
- The Town has developed and released a mobile app (iOS / Android) that can be used to easily report any housing violations. Simply visit www.brookhaven.org using your mobile device to install the app.
- The Town is actively investigating fraudulent Star Property Tax exemptions and is seeking restitution, penalties & possible criminal action for repeat offenders.
- The Town has added additional staff to address housing issues and concerns.
- The Town was successful in establishing a full day in court to hear Community housing code violations.
- The rental application must now include the name of tenants occupying the residence. An IRS/NYS Financial disclosure has also been added to the rental application.
The town has budgeted for and received approval for additional inspectors to enforce Town codes as it relates to illegal housing.
- The University will no longer accept any ads for off-campus housing that cannot provide a current verifiable rental registration.
- When an ad is received, the university now contacts the Brookhaven Law Department to check on its status. If it doesn’t have a current rental registration, it will not get posted.
- The University has placed signs on bulletin boards around campus disallowing postings for these illegal rentals. Illegal postings are regularly removed as they are identified.
- The University is in discussions with land owners and private developers in investigating off-campus housing alternatives in properly zoned areas.
- Construction has begun and 759 new beds will be added to on- campus housing beginning in the fall of 2016.
- The new Dean of Students is taking a proactive approach and is visiting off campus residences where party houses have been identified and is addressing concerns and good neighbor practices with these students. He is also working closely with University and Suffolk County police and is following up on all disturbances and is taking disciplinary action when appropriate.
- The University is addressing traffic and safety issues on Nichols and Stony Brook Roads.
- The University has established an off-campus student housing committee and is developing an internal on-line tool to rate landlords and is working on improving their local address data base for students.
- An off-campus student advisory committee was formed to teach students about leases, landlords, safety concerns, fair housing laws and expectations on how to be a good neighbor.
- The University is housing 200 Students at Dowling’s Brookhaven Campus and will be giving on-campus housing preference to students who live farthest from Stony Brook. This ensures that the option of living on campus is given to those who need it most.
Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn
Suffolk County Police
We have also been receiving the support of our Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. She has been instrumental in setting up a meeting that we recently had with the Suffolk County Police Department. We received a commitment from them to enforce the laws and send out a sergeant , in addition to the sector car, when a complaint is reported via 911. They have committed to enforcing laws on DUI, public intoxication, underage drinking, noise, public disturbances, etc.
Liaison to the Governor’s Office of Regional Affairs for Suffolk County
Kara Hahn arranged a meeting with the liaison to the governor’s office of Regional Affairs for Suffolk County. During this meeting, we discussed the issues of the University’s housing shortage and the ethics of University professors owning student rental homes, many of which are illegal.
Local Real Estate Agencies
- We have met with several real estate agents and had a very open discussion regarding the new whole-house rental registration codes and how the information could be shared with all agents and brokers.
- The Town has sent a letter of codes affecting these types of rentals to all 300+ Real Estate brokers within the Town.
- Our group has picketed various locations where college boarding houses are located. We have also picketed the home of a professor who owns several rental homes.
- We have attracted the media (television and print) attention this issue deserves and will be continuing this effort as the need arises.
- We have been pulling the deeds on all suspected illegal rentals. Currently, we have reported 251 of these potential illegal boarding houses. More that are brought to our attention every day. The Town has investigated many of these and have brought over 100 into compliance and have issued fines where appropriate
- Our group has devised a plan to survey these homes to insure that they conform to the current town codes. This includes verifying that a current rental registration is on file with the town.
- Once a house is determined to be a rental, we work to confirm its legality. Once we confirm the home is an illegal rental, we immediately report it to the law department for investigation. It is very important that we do not send the information that will cause the investigators to go on a wild goose chase.
- Our members report their findings on a regular basis. If you live next to or across from a suspected boarding house, please let us know. Additionally, Report the Problem.
- We have been in touch with the State and Federal agencies about other items related to this issue.
We love our community and will continue to fight and maintain the beauty and quality of life of the Stony Brook area.