There’s a proposal to amend Cheektowaga’s year-old landlord licensing law to include single dwellings housing up to three families, which is part of a continuing effort to hold absentee landlords responsible for criminal or public nuisance activity on their properties.
“The police came to us and said there are serious problems” in homes owned by out-of-towners, Town Supervisor Mary F. Holtz said recently. “It’s important we do this.”
Originally enacted in May 2013, the law requires landlords with four or more rental units to register with the town, providing contact information for the owner or property manager, as well as information about the tenants. The number of landlords who have registered so far wasn’t immediately available.
The proposed amendment, up for a public hearing Monday night, adds owners of one-, two- and three-family homes.
Overall, the law still applies to housing not occupied by the owner, and there’s no registration fee.
Locating owners of problem properties sometimes takes weeks, Deputy Supervisor Gerald Kaminski said Thursday. “That’s been the biggest thing – just to track people down,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of putting together a ‘who’s who;’ in case there is a problem. We can have somebody we can talk to directly,” Kaminski said.
Under the law, property owners are subject to fines if town police respond to multiple reports of criminal or public nuisance activity at their property. Owners or property managers are expected to take appropriate action with the tenant.
Fines kick in once the number of police reports hit three within the same calendar year. That first penalty is $50 and the amount tops out at $1,000 per incident when the number reaches six or more during the calendar year .
It took some time for residents to warm up to the law initially. Town officials may have to offer reassurances again, based on recent comments by smaller-scale landlords who feel the amendment is targeting them.
Kaminski, who owns a two-family rental property next to his own home, said he would be among those required to register if the amendment is approved. “I really don’t have a problem with it,” he said.
“It’s kind of like car registrations, to a point,” Kaminski said. Though you don’t necessarily know who’s driving the vehicle, “you know who the owner is,” he said.
The public hearing will be held during Monday’s Town Board meeting, which begins at 6:45 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall.