Lawmakers in Kingston, New York are moving forward with a novel plan that holds tenants accountable for much of the care and maintenance of rental properties.
City officials say that because 50 percent of Kingston residents live in rental housing, it’s in everyone’s best interests to have those homes maintained in a safe and sanitary manner. That responsibility, they say, rests not only landlords, but with tenants as well.
The draft ordinance has passed many hurdles, but still needs to be approved by council members, possibly later this month.
Based largely on public health and fire safety, the ordinance provides more detailed guidance regarding the care of a rental property than the typical lease agreement. Examples of tenant responsibilities under the proposed law include:
Keeping yards, courtyards and vacant lots clean and free of hazards;
Paved areas including steps and walkways must be kept safe and accessible;
Restrictions on parking in front of buildings;
Preventing insect and rodent infestations through proper cleaning and maintenance of floors, walls, windows, doors, ceilings and all interior surfaces;
No decorations with draping fabrics;
Limits of what can be stored in cellars and attics, or other unfinished spaces;
Appliances to be kept clean;
Proper handling of trash;
Picking up after pets; and,
Proper use of extension cords, including no excessive use, and no running cords under rugs or in pathways.
Tenants in violation of the rules will receive a warning. Those who do not respond may be subject to recurring fines of $250 per week, and possible jail time. Landlords remain liable for any structural repairs and maintenance needed on the property.
Once the final measure is approved, local landlords may need to revise lease agreements to track the new law, or may be required to provide a disclosure statement to tenants at leasing.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.