Tivoli hearing on landlord reform draws little comment

A public hearing on Tivoli’s proposed rental law reforms drew only one public comment at the Feb. 20 Board of Trustees meeting.

The legislation, Local Law D, would require landlords who do not live in Dutchess, Columbia or Ulster counties to register a local property agent to whom the village can address complaints or notices about the rental property.

Tivoli Mayor Bryan Cranna, who first brought the bill to the Board of Trustees, told The Observer prior to the hearing, “My intent for this legislation is really to address the concerns and impacts of those landlords who do not live close to the village and, as a result, have no idea as to the condition of their properties.”

The mayor had outlined some of these conditions at a previous board meeting. “Far too often, the appearance of certain properties is poor. Furniture, garbage, rugs, etc. are left out and around the property, and this impacts the appearance of the neighborhood,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

Cranna also hopes the new law will help the village zoning department address code violations quicker. A property agent would be able to take a phone call or sign for a certified letter from the clerk’s office in a timely manner, if property conditions warrant such action.

At least one landlord is objecting to being labeled as an absentee.

Helene Tieger, who lives in Catskill and is a reference librarian at Bard College, submitted comments to the hearing asking that Greene County be added to the list of exempted locations.

“I own a house on Montgomery Street that has been in my family since the early 1970s,” she said. “My husband and I rent this typically to Bard faculty or staff. I have no plans to rent this to students, since I am familiar with the issues the village has had with student parties.”

Tieger, whose parents live in Tivoli, noted that Catskill is less than 20 minutes away from Tivoli, which allows her to be very responsive to her tenants’ needs. “I do not consider myself an absentee landlord,” she said.

The new agent registration process will be included in the village’s standard application for a permit to rent property.

The law would also require regular inspections of rental properties to maintain the validity of permits, a measure designed to ensure that rental units remain up to fire and building codes. The village would have the right to fine landlords up to $500 per bedroom if the Zoning Enforcement Officer found serious fire code violations.

The public hearing will remain open, giving residents and landlords another month to offer their opinions on the issue. Comments can be submitted via mail or email to the Clerk’s office, or delivered in person. The public hearing will continue at the March 20 Board of Trustee meeting at 7pm.

The text of the law remains available on the village website for review.

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