City Passes Landmark Inspection Amendments to Improve Investor-Owned Housing

Date: February 3, 2021

By Sarah Wooton |

In November 2020, the City of Buffalo took a major step to improve housing conditions in Buffalo. Investor-owned singles and doubles will now be subject to regular inspections. To rent their properties, investors will have to get Certificates of Rental Compliance, which must be renewed every three years. To get a Certificate, the units will have to pass inspection and be free of visible lead hazards. In six years, these lead requirements will become stricter.  

Our city has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, with 63% of units built in 1939 or earlier (2015-2019 American Community Survey). Many of the properties rented out to tenants are in disrepair and contain severe lead hazards. Tenants have a right to contact the city or county for an inspection, but many don’t make the call; some don’t know about this process while others fear retribution from their landlords. As a result, vulnerable tenants continue to live in these health-harming conditions. By requiring inspections, the City takes the burden of responsibility from tenants and holds landlords accountable for maintaining their properties.

Landlords will have up to 60 days to make repairs if the property does not pass inspection. If repairs are still not made, possible penalties include an order to vacate, receivership, and the inability to collect rental income. If a landlord tries to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent during a period when the property did not have a certificate of rental compliance, the eviction will be prohibited.

Buffalo is following in the footsteps of other NYS cities by updating its inspection processes. For many years, Rochester has required inspections for singles and doubles. Syracuse enacted similar legislation in 2018. This is a much-needed improvement. We congratulate Mayor Byron Brown, the Buffalo Common Council with the legislation championed by Council Members David Rivera and Mitch Nowakowski, and the City Law Department for making it possible. We look forward to seeing long-term improvements in both the quality of our city’s housing and the health and living conditions of our city’s tenants.

For more information: