Affordable Rental Law Refined in Southampton

Southampton Town Hall

The Southampton Town Board last week further refined its evolving proposal to expand the inventory of affordable accessory apartments in existing houses, agreeing during a long discussion at its October 25 work session to limit the proposal’s greatest impact to the less densely developed parts of town.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman asked Assistant Town Attorney Kara Bak to prepare a final draft of the proposal before the board’s next work session, the date of which has not been announced. A public hearing on the proposal could be set at the board’s next scheduled regular meeting on November 13.

Accessory apartments on lots as small as half an acre would be allowed in areas with population densities of 500 people per square mile or less. Current rules allow accessory apartments only on lots three-quarters of an acre in size or larger anywhere in town. Qualifying areas for the new half-acre standard would include Bridgehampton, Eastport, Flanders, North Sea, Noyac, Northampton, Tuckahoe, Water Mill and Westhampton.

The proposal would set limits on annual rents based on a formula using 75 percent of the designated “area median income” (AMI) established by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The board also informally agreed to add a cap on tenant income at 130 percent of AMI.

According to a draft prepared by Ms. Bak, rents would be limited to $1,328 for a studio, $1,508 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,708 for a two-bedroom unit. Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni argued that rents about $100 higher would be necessary to give homeowners with the incentive to create apartments.

The affordability requirement would not apply to existing units created under the town’s current accessory apartment law, which has been in effect about 16 years. But once the new legislation in enacted, “all future accessory apartments would be affordable from the effective date of the law,” Supervisor Schneiderman commented in summarizing the board’s discussion.