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Orchard

FILE, November 2014: A rental unit build by Housing Visions of Syracuse on Clark Street in Auburn.

Communicating with landlords has been an issue historically for many municipalities. Auburn is no exception.

In Auburn's case, solutions have been approached over the years with varying levels of progress. In 2007, for example, then-Mayor Tim Lattimore suggested a registry documenting contact information for landlords or their local representatives. The program was never instated, while the city later established a vacant building registry in around 2014 to help emergency responders identify a parcel's hazard level.

Now, Auburn officials are again considering a rental property registry after meeting with members of the Cayuga County Landlords Association last week.

Around a dozen association members discussed the concept last Tuesday during a meeting with Auburn City Manager Jeff Dygert and Senior Code Enforcement Officer Brian Hicks, said Tim Kerstetter, the association's treasurer.

The general idea of the registry is to establish a list of contacts for the city's use in case of a property emergency, such as a codes issue or a damaging condition.

The Cayuga County Landlords Association currently has a membership of around 40 property owners. The majority of them at Tuesday's meeting appeared to support the concept, Kerstetter said.

One of their concerns regarded any involved costs. Kerstetter said the association hopes the program could be implemented free of charge.

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"That's what the goal is: better communication," he said.

The city of Syracuse has a rental property registry in place. Owners of one- or two-family non-owner occupied Syracuse properties that are rented or leased are required to apply for a rental registry certificate. Syracuse's application requires a $150 processing fee.

Dygert has said previously that the registry would not be designed to create revenue or implement a fee. Like Syracuse's, Auburn's registry, ideally, would only concern properties that are not owner-occupied.

Other details have not yet been worked out. For instance, it has not been determined whether the list would be mandatory and, if that were the case, what sort of penalty there would be for those who do not comply.

Dygert, Auburn's former fire chief, said there have been situations in the past where the city has had issues reaching landlords following property emergencies severe enough to displace families from their homes. During those situations, the city cannot reach out to plumbers, electricians and similar companies on another person's behalf, he said.

If a registry is made, contacting residents in case of those situations would be the purpose of the list, according to the city manager. Dygert said the city would not share that contact information publicly or commercially.

"It's all about trying to improve communications, keep people in their homes when we can and reduce everybody's cost," he said.

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Staff writer Greg Mason can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or greg.mason@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMason.

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