The Democratic and Republican candidates for East Hampton Town Board split over whether the town should require those who rent their homes to register with the town by next summer, as has been proposed by the current Town Board.
Speaking at a candidates forum hosted by the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee at Ashwagh Hall on Monday night, the incumbents—Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Councilpersons Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc—all firmly pledged to be in favor of creating a rental registry, while their Republican challengers—Tom Knobel, Margaret Turner and Lisa Mulhern Larsen—remained skeptical.
“I oppose the rental registry as it is proposed,” Republican supervisor candidate Tom Knobel said. “Do you know how long it takes to get a survey? If you need any of that, you’re not going to be able to rent your house that year.”
Mr. Knobel said that he believes the issues created by rental properties are caused by abuse of the existing laws, not by a need for a new law.
His running mate Margaret Turner said that she thinks the rental registry has many “missing parts” and that some of the requirements proposed in early drafts, such as the need for an inspection by building inspectors or an architect, are overly onerous.
Early versions of the proposed law would have required that someone registering their house have it inspected by the town, requiring compliance with the most up-to-date state building codes, a potentially expensive prospect.
Town attorneys are due to present a newly tailored version of the law to the Town Board next week that could include an allowance for “self certification” by homeowners that the house meets code. Ms. Overby said that she wants to see the rental registry law that is adopted be less stringent than previous versions proposed last winter.
“I’m for a rental registry as long as it is not invasive,” she said. “What we hope it will do is … give the tools to our code officers to have a reason to” cite someone violating existing rental laws.
Mr. Van Scoyoc noted that seven of the 10 townships in Suffolk County have some form of rental registration requirement. “The time has come” for East Hampton too he said, while Mr. Cantwell nodded to the impacts that illegal short-term rentals have on neighbors.
“Houses that are being used like hotels in residential neighborhoods are a threat to the character of this community,” Mr. Cantwell said. “Yes, I support a registry.”