Southampton Town and the owner of a Shinnecock Hills house whom the town has cited numerous times over nearly a decade for violating rental laws settled a lawsuit and a series of violations in court this week, part of an agreement town officials say they hope will bring to an end the chronic violations at the property.
The homeowner, Suzanne Tecza, agreed to pay $10,000 in fines and was issued a court-ordered injunction against violating the town’s rental permit guidelines in the future—she will face jail time if she does, according to the Southampton Town attorney’s office.
“She is permanently enjoined from using the property in violation of the rental law, and she’s agreeing not to sublet the property,” Assistant Town Attorney Kara Bak said this week. “It could carry jail time if she violates it.”
Ms. Tecza has now applied for a rental permit.
It is the second time Ms. Tecza was ordered by a court to abide by the town’s rental rules. The last time was in April of this year, but town code enforcement officers said that less than a month after the court order prohibiting her from renting the house without a town rental permit, they discovered a new online listing advertising her house as available for rent for a week or weekend at a time.
Town code prohibits rentals of less than one month and requires that a homeowner possess a rental permit, granted only after code officers have inspected a house.
On Memorial Day weekend, officers said there were nearly two dozen high school-age kids staying at the house for the weekend. Over the summer, according to town officials, Ms. Tecza rented the house to two young men who apparently subletted “shares” of weekends or weeks throughout the summer.
The town subsequently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court against Ms. Tecza, seeking to recoup the more than $40,000 they said she earned from the illegal rental this past summer.
“She has been operating this share house for a number of years, and she’s been in Justice Court numerous times and has yet to comply,” Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlatto said. “The town had the right to go after the proceeds.”
The town has cited Ms. Tecza for rental law and safety code violations at the house on numerous occasions, dating back to 2000. It is the second time she has paid hefty fines to address code violations.
Ms. Tecza, who lives in New York City, declined to comment when contacted this week.
“We certainly hope this is the end of this particular problem,” Ms. Bak said. “I think having the judge order this stipulation should be enough to encourage her to conform with the town code.”