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Inspection fee for apartments up 60 percent

March 4, 2013

by Laura Sarsfield

The city of Albany will charge landlords $50 for a rental permit, a more than 60 percent increase over the $30 charged over the last 17 years.

The City Common Council approved the fee increase with a vote of 10 to 4 at its Monday meeting.  Landlords are required to have a residency occupancy permit in order to rent an apartment in the city. The permit indicates an apartment or unit meets the state’s building code requirements.   Effective immediately in the city of Albany, the fee for a residency permit  inspection jumps from $30 to $50 per unit.

Previously, discounts available to landlords who owned larger apartment complexes – any building that contained more than five units would be subject to a $15 charge per unit. This discount is now eliminated. Every landlord is now required to pay the $50 fee for each apartment regardless of the amount of apartments in a single building. This fee is required to be paid each time a unit is rented and every 30 months thereafter.  These are the same inspections that were previously done by the fire department.  They are now done by one of several building inspectors working for the city of Albany.

A local organization representing landlords objected to the proposed fee increase.  Judd Feinman, president of Finewill Companies and the New York Capital Region Apartment Association objected to the proposal at Monday night’s meeting.

Judd Feinman, President NYCOAA

“How is that going to be paid for? Well, that will be restrictions and monies that will be taken away from the units themselves, possibly reducing employee’s pay and possible services for those seniors that are on the property,” said Feinman.  He was speaking in regard to a senior living community and the effects that this increase would have on their standard of living.

There was much debate over the issue among the council members.  Council member Leah Golby was on the fence about this proposal,  “this will be a real big hit to those businesses,” she said of the multi-unit apartment buildings.

“The bottom line is that the ROP’s are for the benefit of the landlord as well as the tenant,” said Councilman James Sano.  “It ensures that tenants are in a safe and sound apartment and that they have the proper smoke detectors,  that they have the proper safety guards on the windows and they have the proper safety requirements”

Several members of the council also argued that there has not been a rate increase in 17 years for these inspections, and the cost works out to an affordable  fee of about  67 cents per month for the landlords. It was also argued that if the the city had increased the fee  3% each year for the past 17 years, the current fee would equal the $50 price which was adopted Monday night.

Feinman worked over the past several days with Jeff Jamison, Director of the Division of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance, The Apartment Association and the Common Council on a possible compromise to this increase. Feinman was under the impression that an agreement was reached on Friday afternoon. This agreement would have implemented the increase gradually over the course of 4 years.  He said “nothing was done behind backs; we proposed an amount that we proposed on Friday.”

Email from Feinman to council members with proposed compromise

After the meeting Feinman said “I am extremely disappointed, prior to this we had the votes, three of them agreed to, it went back to committee, and they forced a vote down.  We had the agreement on Friday; they went back on their own with it.” -30-


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