Monday, April 16, 2012

Gallo Caves on Inspection Promise

Sounds like the city really is going to need a qualified code enforcement officer:
As part of Kingston’s crackdown on quality of life issues, the city is going after building code violations. Mayor Shayne Gallo said absentee landlords are not going to be let off the hook if violations are found on their properties.

“We’re not going to put up with the fact that they rent their property to individuals and then aren’t concerned about code compliance or the safety of the tenant who is occupying the rental unit,” Gallo said.
Gallo has apparently backed off his promise to toughen the laws on rental permits:
Mayor Shayne Gallo says he will no longer push for the adoption of a law requiring landlords to notify the city each time they rent to new tenants.

Instead, Gallo said, he wants to “cooperate” with the Common Council and step up enforcement of the city’s so-called Landlord Registration Law by, among other things, seeking quarterly inspections of rental buildings.

Gallo’s decision to back off his press for the Rental Safety Certificate also comes after a meeting between him and other lawmakers this week who say the session saw no progress toward compromise on the proposed Rental Safety Certificate law.
To inspect every rental in the city quarterly is a good idea on paper, but probably a pretty bad one from a practical standpoint. Given the number of rental units in the city, I would guess you'd need as many as a half-dozen new, full-time inspectors in order to make this work. And the investment probably outweighs the return in these lean economic times.

But more should be done regarding rental safety and the decrepit state of some of the housing in Kingston. And if you look at the charter, there's already a law regarding rental permits, outlined in section 332-9:

Rental permits.

(1) No rental property and/or building as defined herein shall be occupied by anyone, including any tenants, without a valid rental permit.

(2) The Building Safety Division of the Kingston Fire Department shall issue such permit after receipt of a valid landlord registration statement as discussed herein. Such rental permit shall be valid until such lime as the owner or any new owner is required to file a new landlord registration statement.

(3) The owner and/or managing agent must present the previous rental permit at the time that the new landlord registration statement is submitted.


The following is the fee schedule applicable to the inspections required by this article:
[Added 9-14-2004 by L.L. No. 4-2004, approved 10-5-2004]

(1) Dwelling units, including apartment buildings, residential rental property.
Number of Units Fee
1-3 $50 per rental unit
4-9 $100, plus $45 per rental unit
10-20 $200, plus $40 per rental unit
Over 20 $350, plus $35 per rental unit

(2) Rooming houses.
Number of Units Fee
1-9 $100, plus $35 per unit
10-20 $200, plus $30 per unit
Over 20 $350, plus $25 per unit

(3) Canceling inspection within 24 hours of appointment: $20 per unit.

(4) Failing to be present at time of appointment: $25 per unit.
So, here's my question: why not simply amend the current law in such a way that a property has to pass inspection annually, something which is done in cities and villages across the state and country? Now, the law says that inspections are to be done at a minimum of every two years, which is way too long an interval (three months is probably overkill). And the law also appears to be silent as to whether failing an inspection would automatically revoke a landlord's rental permit. Amending the current law, and tying the permit to the inspection, would seem the path of least resistance.

But more inspections will be needed, no doubt. All the more reason to hire someone with a strong background and the proper civil service credentials, as the whole inspection process is probably going to need to be revamped.

And it's also going to cost money, so changing the fee structure in order to pay for all of this is also probably a good idea.

Too many Kingston lawmakers are in the pocket of local slumlords. No wonder they like the law just the way it is.


  1. It would cost to much in staffing to try to inspect every apartment every year by the city.

  2. Gallo's plan is now to step up inspections from every two years to quarterly. He's going to need an energized staff. Maybe he's sniffing the same white powder his brother loved so much . . .