Carlucci’s Column: Fighting to Crack Down on Illegal Housing

BY SENATOR DAVID CARLUCCI

Illegal housing puts people’s lives in jeopardy. It is a problem that has plagued Rockland County, where unscrupulous landlords often put profit before people.

To crackdown on illegal housing, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowsk and I are working to get legislation signed into law, which would allow municipalities to roll a landlord’s unpaid housing code fines of at least one year into their annual taxes.

Under this legislation, the fines for housing violations would be included in a homeowner’s property taxes, giving the taxing authority the ability to sell the home to satisfy an outstanding tax lien.

This bill will also allow housing code violation fines to be collected at the same proceedings as the delinquent property taxes, saving municipalities time and money through the collection process.

Not following local code and zoning is illegal in New York State, but repeat offenders can get fine after fine and not pay up.

Due to the lack of real penalties, code enforcement has proved difficult for many towns and villages in Rockland County, and citations have proved to be ineffective.

This legislation though, would give our current law teeth and send a strong message to unscrupulous landlords that if you do not follow building, zoning, and fire codes, you will pay the price.

Last year legislation sponsored by myself and Assemblyman Zebrowski allowing the Department of State to revoke code enforcement officers’ licenses due to misconduct was signed into law.

Also late in 2016, state monitors were installed to oversee the building departments in Ramapo and Spring Valley.

These are all steps in the right direction, but we know more has to be done to keep our residents and first responders safe.

I urge my fellow lawmakers to support this legislation so it can be signed into law.