A rental review board in Suffolk County is setting a potential precedent on Long Island and reportedly winning local praise in its first year.
Babylon Town’s rental review board has worked through 300 permits so far, 12 percent of the 2,500 active rental permits in town. The board has only revoked one permit since opening the hearing of cases in December, according to Newsday.
The seven-member board was formed in July 2020 to examine the town’s rental permit applications for both houses and buildings. The board began hearing cases in December and has since fielded about 10 cases each meeting, two to three times a month.
Despite facing some initial pushback from landlords, according to the outlet, the board has seen a relatively smooth process since beginning their reviews. About 60 percent of cases encountered a problem during an inspection. But 90 percent of those problems were resolved before a hearing into the permit took place.
“We are very pleased with how it’s been working,” Deputy Town Supervisor Tony Martinez told Newsday.
When plans for the review board were launched, Newsday reported Martinez had his eye on making sure properties received necessary repairs and holding landlords accountable.
Here’s how it works: Landlords for all of the rental permits in town come before the board or have an agent do so on their behalf. Neighbors are informed of the hearing date and are permitted to attend and voice grievances. After a successful hearing, landlords don’t need to return to renew permits, unless there are complaints about the building.
This process could potentially benefit residents as the board ensures landlord upkeep of outdoor spaces like sidewalks and fences, in addition to the more traditional health and safety items. Additionally, they are able to give their feedback on troublesome landlords.
It’s not clear if other towns in the area plan on following in the footsteps of the Town of Babylon’s rental review board, but residents appear to be responding well to the system, according to Newsday.
“The folks that have some problem houses in their community, they’re very happy that they have a voice, have somewhere where their concerns will be heard and action taken,” attorney to the board Jorge Rosario told the outlet.
[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner