Rental Red Alert - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1910757

Rental Red Alert

Red alert for Village of Southampton homeowners who rent or may contemplate renting this summer! The slipshod Village Board of Trustees has prepared a nasty surprise for you.

Buried in the monotonous rote-reading of 26 resolutions during the excruciating Zoom meeting of March 11, your ears might have perked up (if you were still conscious) at Resolution 24, which asked for a public hearing to add a “Rental Registry Law and Permit Process for Village Rental Properties.”

The “Rental Registry” is a draconian law that holds the Town of East Hampton and, in slightly lesser form, the Town of Southampton in an intrusive iron grip. It is a blatant grab for revenue, information and physical access to your property.

This quasi-Stasi law mandates you to get a registration number for your property, which must be shown on every rental ad and listing, with onerous fines up to and including jail time if you omit it. And If you rent without it, both you and your tenant can incur $15,000 fines or jail time.

It imposes permit fees, and “self-inspection,” where you attest that your house, no matter the age, complies with code, or you provide engineers and architects access for mandatory inspections. This trove of data will be distributed to all tax-collecting entities, then can be monetized and weaponized. But you will be told this is for your protection.

As is his style, the mayor did not vet his intent with all members of his board nor inform the public but jumped prematurely to a public hearing on March 29. My guess: He was hoping to jam it through on Zoom while many residents were away.

While prattling on about not raising taxes, mired in litigation and hiring supernumeraries at excessive salaries, this mayor is on the hunt for revenue. Registration is another tax and a death blow to residents with lifelong investments in older houses who often rent to offset astronomically increasing property taxes. A large price to extract for a small amount of revenue.

The myth is that the incorporated villages protect against some of the excesses and incursions of the town (not!). The villages of East Hampton and Sagaponack rejected the onerous registry. Southampton Village residents must reject it, too.

Incidentally, this is another gift from sly Fred Thiele, who caused chaos by not protecting seasonal rentals from inclusion in the Tenant Protection Law. Now proclaiming that he set it all right, he knowingly slipped the words “registered tenants” into the law meant to reverse the quagmire he caused. The usual Thiele-speak.

This registry law is inappropriate for the village. Please attend the in-person public hearing on March 29 at Village Hall, or send letters.

Frances Genovese