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Sample Legislation: Absentee Landlords

Absentee Landlords

There may be rental property in your municipality owned by a landlord who does not live within the community. This causes a problem for enforcement officials who need to serve process on the landlord or contact a landlord for some other reason. Many municipalities have addressed this issue by adopting legislation requiring the annual registration of landlords and designation of a registered agent authorized to accept a summons on behalf of the absentee landlord. Some absentee landlords have hired property management companies, and these companies must be registered. Sample legislation on this topic also requires that a notice be posted, stating who is responsible for the property and who will receive summons. If absentee landlords cause, or could cause, a problem in your municipality, take a look at the free sample legislation offered below.

Sample Ordinances:

Poughkeepsie, C. NY: § 14-27
Tuxedo, T. NY: Ch. 27
Snow Hill, T. MD: Ch. 137

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Poughkeepsie, C. NY:



Chapter 14

§ 14-27. Registry of property managers and property management companies.

  1. Legislative purpose. It is recognized by the Common Council of the City of Poughkeepsie that a rare majority of commercial and residential properties are owned by landlords who do not reside in the City of Poughkeepsie or, in many cases, the County of Dutchess. it has been the experience of the Building Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Works and other city departments that when these departments need to contact the absentee owner, they encounter difficulties in obtaining the proper residence address and telephone number at which to reach these owners, causing delay and/or the inability of these city departments to contact the owners. The Common Council recognizes the need for city departments, particularly in emergency situations, to be able to quickly contact the owner and/or manager of a property located within the city. The Council further recognizes that a growing number of properties with absentee landlords are being managed by property managers and property management companies. These managers are responsible for the daily operation of these buildings within the City of Poughkeepsie, act as agents for the absentee owners, are more available and accessible than the owners and thus are the more appropriate individuals for the city to contact concerning a building in the city. In order to facilitate contact with the property managers and property management companies by the city departments, this section is being enacted to require property managers and property management companies that manage property within the City of Poughkeepsie to register information concerning those properties managed so as to provide the city and its various departments with accessible and accurate information concerning the property and the person or persons to contact should there be a problem or emergency at the property.


  2. On or before January 1st and July 1st of each year, every property manager and property management company, which manages property in the City of Poughkeepsie, shall file with the City Chamberlain, in duplicate, on a form to be provided by the City Chamberlain, a statement showing the following: the complete name, address and telephone numbers of property managers or property management company, the name(s) of managers employed by company, a list of properties managed, the name of property manager responsible for each property, with business and emergency telephone numbers for the manager, the owner of record for each property with residence address and telephone number, a description of use of building, type of construction and height of building, number of rooms or apartments, if residential structure, whether the building is vacant or occupied, number of individuals residing in each unit and such other further information as may be recruited by the city. It shall further be the responsibility of the property manager or property management company to update the statement required by this section, as needed, to add properties not included in the semiannual report, to delete properties no longer managed by the company or to report a change in ownership of the property, within two weeks of the change in status of the property. Said statement shall be kept on file in the City Chamberlain's office and a copy shall be provided to the Police Department, police dispatchers, Fire Department, fire alarm dispatchers, Law Department, Department of Public Works and Building Department and shall be available on file for other city departments' access and review, as needed. (Ord. of 8-7-1995, § 1)

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Tuxedo, T. NY:



Chapter 27



[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Tuxedo 12-9-1992 as L.L. No. 7-1992. Amendments noted where applicable.]



§ 27-1. Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the terms used herein are defined as follows:

ACTION or PROCEEDING — Any action or proceeding which may be instituted in the Justice Court of the Town of Tuxedo in connection with an alleged violation of any of the ordinances of the Town of Tuxedo.

BUILDING — Any improved real property located within the Town of Tuxedo which, in whole or in part, is non-owner-occupied.

OWNER — Any individual or individuals, partnership or corporation, whether for profit or otherwise, in whose name title to a building stands.

PROCESS — A summons or any notice, mandate or other paper or process issued under any provision of the Code of the Town of Tuxedo.

TOWN CLERK — Either the Town Clerk or any Deputy Town Clerk of the Town of Tuxedo.


§ 27-2. Designation of agent.

  1. Every owner of property located within the Town of Tuxedo shall file:


    (1) A statement of designation, signed and verified in the office of the Town Clerk setting forth the name and address, by street and number within the Town of Tuxedo, of an agent upon whom process may be served in any action or proceeding which may be commenced or instituted against said owner.

    (2) A designation, signed and verified, of the Town Clerk, as the agent upon whom process against the owner may be served, and the post office address, within or without the Town of Tuxedo, to which the Town Clerk may mail a copy of any process against such owner served upon the Town Clerk.


  2. Whenever process is served upon the Town Clerk, he shall promptly mail, by certified mail, addressed to the agent named in said designation at the address therein set forth, a true copy of said process.


§ 27-3. Certificate of ownership.

Attached to such statement and designation shall be a certificate properly certified by the owner that he is the owner of the premises with respect to which such statement or designation is filed.


§ 27-4. Posting of notice.

  1. Every owner of a building located within the Town of Tuxedo shall post, and keep posted, in a conspicuous place in a main public area in said building, a notice, at least six by eight (6 x 8) inches in size, setting forth:


    (1) The name, address and telephone number of the person, firm or corporation responsible for the management of the building.

    (2) The name, address, apartment number and telephone number of the resident superintendent of the building.


  2. Exception. In the event that a building is:


    (1) A one-family house, such notice need not be posted.

    (2) A two- or three-family house and the owner of the building resides in the building, such notice need not be posted, but the owner shall furnish each tenant with the information required in Subsection A(2) above.


§ 27-5. Penalties for offenses.

Any person, firm or corporation who violates, disobeys, neglects or refuses to comply with any of the terms of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.). Each week a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.


§ 27-6. Effective date.

The effective date of this chapter shall be upon the filing with the Secretary of State.

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Snow Hill, T. MD:



Chapter 137



[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Snow Hill 10-11-1988 as Ord. No. 163. Amendments noted where applicable.]



Building construction — See Ch. 57.
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 60.
Housing standards — See Ch. 101.


§ 137-1. Purpose.

The Mayor and Council of Snow Hill do hereby establish a program for the enactment, enforcement and administration of a rental permit requirement for all rental units within the corporate boundaries of Snow Hill and for the periodic registration of all landlords and rental property owners for the purpose of regulating rental property conditions and for maintaining an inventory of available rental housing.


§ 137-2. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

ABSENTEE LANDLORD — Any landlord who resides outside the designated boundaries of Worcester County as those boundaries may be defined at the time of regular, periodic property registration.

HOUSING OFFICIAL — The town staff member designated by the Town Manager as having responsibility for enforcement of Chapter 101, Housing Standards, and this chapter.

HOUSING OR DWELLING UNIT — Any single unit which is capable of housing one (1) separate household, whether a detached single-family structure or building or part of a multihousehold structure or building.

IMMEDIATE FAMILY — The "immediate family" of the owner of a housing unit consists of the owner's spouse, children, parents, grandparents or grandchildren. [Added 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]

LANDLORD — Any property owner or designated agent who offers a housing unit for occupancy to persons other than members of his immediate family in exchange for a fee or compensation, whether monetary or otherwise.

RENTAL PERMIT — A permit issued by the Town of Snow Hill stating that the referenced structure or unit conforms to the standards of Chapter 101, Housing Standards, and that occupancy of that structure or unit is permitted for residential use. Any special circumstances or conditions under which occupancy is permitted may be specified on that certificate.

RENTAL PROPERTY — Any housing unit or units which are occupied by persons other than the owner or his immediate family or for which a fee or compensation, monetary or otherwise, is received by the owner in exchange for such occupation.

RESIDENT AGENT — A representative of a property owner or landlord who resides within the designated boundaries of Worcester County as defined at the time of periodic property registration.

SUBSTANDARD — Any deficiency in a structure or housing unit as defined by Chapter 101, Housing Standards, as amended.


§ 137-3. General requirements.

  1. All landlords must register with the Town of Snow Hill on or before July 31 of each and every calendar year or within thirty (30) days of the date of mailing of yearly real estate tax bills. Upon adoption of this chapter, initial registration will begin as soon as practicable after this chapter is effective. It is the responsibility of the property owner to register any rental property or properties, and failure to do so constitutes a violation of these regulations and is subject to the penalties set forth herein.


  2. All absentee landlords must have a resident agent for each rental unit.


  3. All rental properties will be inspected on an annual basis. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  4. Any substandard condition identified during an annual inspection must be corrected by the property owner before a rental permit shall be issued. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  5. No housing unit shall be let, rented or occupied by someone other than the owner or his immediate family until a rental permit has been obtained for that unit. However, no rental permit shall be required for units which are let or rented as of the effective date of this chapter for such time as the tenant in possession or residence as of the effective date of this chapter shall remain in possession or residence.


§ 137-4. Registration of landlords.

  1. All property owners will receive notice with their yearly tax bills giving them thirty (30) days in which to register any rental properties that they may own. Water and sewer bills will be used to cross-check which properties are rentals and which are owner-occupied.


  2. The owner of a property constituting a rental unit shall register the same with the Housing Official within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this chapter on a form approved by the Housing Official, showing the address of the rental unit, the name and address of the owner and his resident agent and the full name of the tenant in possession of the unit as of the effective date of this chapter.


  3. The fee for registration of landlords will be five dollars ($5.) per unit for each unit up to five (5) under a single individual's ownership or control and two dollars and fifty cents ($2.50) for each unit thereafter.


  4. Absentee landlords must designate a resident agent for service of process who resides within the corporate boundaries of Worcester County. If that agent's residence should be removed from Worcester County during the yearly registration period, another agent must be designated for the duration of that period.


  5. It shall be unlawful for any property owner to offer any unit for rent or to allow any rental unit to be occupied without having first registered as a landlord as required herein within the time prescribed for such registration. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  6. Failure to receive notice of the registration deadline will not excuse failure to register rental units. It is the landlord's responsibility to fulfill registration requirements.


§ 137-5. Rental permit requirements.

  1. No rental unit may be occupied without a valid rental permit. No rental permit shall be issued until the housing unit has been inspected by the Housing Official to determine that the requirements of this chapter and Chapter 101, Housing Standards, have been met.


  2. Any rental unit that is occupied at the time of the adoption of this chapter may continue to be occupied, even if substandard, so long as that unit does not constitute an unsafe structure as defined in Chapter 60, Buildings, Unsafe, or Chapter 101, Housing Standards, as amended. Such units will be issued a provisional rental permit valid only for the tenants in possession or residence at the time of adoption, for such time as those tenants remain in possession or residence.


  3. A rental permit shall be valid for a period of one (1) year from the date it is issued. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  4. The owner of a rental unit may request a rental permit even though the unit is exempted under the provisions of this chapter.


  5. Rental units determined to be unsafe according to the provisions of Chapter 60, Buildings, Unsafe, and/or Chapter 101, Housing Standards, will be subject to condemnation as provided by those chapters and must be vacated. The notice to vacate the unit and any expenses resulting from that eviction are the sole responsibility of the owner. The town will not issue eviction notices, nor assume any responsibility for relocation or displacement expenses when that eviction is a result of the owner's noncompliance with these regulations.


  6. Property owners subject to a demolition order will have the option of granting the property to the town in fee simple, with the town then assuming the responsibility for demolition and clearance, and assuming sole ownership of the property with all the rights thereof.


  7. If the unit passes inspection, the rental permit shall be issued within five (5) business days of the date of inspection. If the unit does not pass inspection, a notice of violations and work description shall be issued within ten (10) business days of the date of the inspection.


  8. In the event that the town does not perform the specified action within the time period stated, the previous rental permit will be considered valid for the time that the tenant in possession or residence at the time of application for permit remains in possession or residence of the unit in question.


  9. Landlords or their agents must present the previous rental permit when applying for a new permit. Date of the last inspection will be verified from the previous permit.


  10. The fee for a rental permit shall be as established by the Mayor and Council by resolution from time to time. In the event that an additional inspection is necessitated by the failure of a property to pass the annual inspection, a fee for each such inspection shall be paid in such amount as shall be established by the Mayor and Council by resolution from time to time before a rental permit shall be issued. The fee for registering a rental unit shall be as established by the Mayor and Council by resolution from time to time. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


§ 137-6. Inspections.

  1. Inspections of rental units shall be conducted on an annual basis to determine compliance with Chapter 101, Housing Standards. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  2. All inspections finding substandard conditions will be subject to the procedures set forth for violation of Chapter 101, Housing Standards, as amended.


  3. Inspections shall be conducted and work descriptions shall be compiled and issued by the Code Enforcement Officer. [Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1991-6]


  4. The Code Enforcement Officer will be responsible for arranging for the inspection of rental units and for initiating any other appropriate action under these regulations. The Code Enforcement Officer will give special consideration to any request that inspections be conducted during nonbusiness hours for the convenience of the tenant(s). In the absence of such a request, the inspections will be conducted during normal business hours as defined by the town business hours in force at the time.


§ 137-7. Violations and penalties.

  1. Violations of this chapter will constitute a municipal infraction and will be subject to applicable penalties under this chapter in addition to those imposed by any other applicable code or ordinance, including, without limitation, Chapter 101, Housing Standards, or Chapter 60, Buildings, Unsafe.


Penalties for violations of these regulations will be imposed as follows:


(1) Failure to register as a landlord or agent:


(a) First offense: twenty-five dollars ($25.).

(b) Subsequent offenses: fifty dollars ($50.) each.


(2) Allowing occupancy without valid permit:


(a) First offense: one hundred dollars ($100.).

(b) Subsequent offenses: one hundred fifty dollars ($150.) each.

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