New bills make owners pay for property in disrepair

Municipalities could make repairs, and costs would be added to owners’ tax bills.

| 08 Jun 2022 | 04:44

Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) announced that four of his bills aimed at improving code enforcement and holding neglectful building owners accountable have passed the Senate with bipartisan support:

S.8146, which would create a pilot program allowing municipalities to perform emergency code enforcement repairs necessitated by property owner negligence. Costs of these repairs would be fronted by New York State, then levied against the property owner as a lien on their property tax bill and recouped. A similar, successful program currently exists in New York City.

S.7029 and S.7030, which would authorize municipalities in Orange County and Ulster County, respectively, to add unpaid code violation penalties, costs, and fines to building owners’ annual tax bill.

S.6210B, which would direct the State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to update New York’s fire prevention, building, and energy conservation construction codes whenever updates are made to international standards. Timely adoption of these model safety codes will encourage market-ready building solutions, improve building performance, spur innovation, and decrease reconstruction costs from damage caused by natural disasters–all while protecting the safety of residents and the value of building owners’ investments.

“Too often, our local governments lack the resources to adequately stay on top of code violations, resulting in dangerous and potentially life-threatening building conditions, putting residents and first responders at risk, and further holding our neighborhoods back,” said Skoufis, a sponsor of the bill. “I am grateful to my Senate colleagues for recognizing the value of timely intervention and more novel approaches to recouping unpaid fines that won’t ensnare responsive and well-intentioned landlords, and for helping to bring New York’s codes into step with the rest of the world.”

This legislation follows a lengthy 2019 joint investigation by the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, chaired by Skoufis. The final investigative report recommended numerous legislative solutions to improve life for New Yorkers, including provision of financial assistance to local governments to strengthen enforcement and remediation.