To find a great summer rental, you must both understand and have the ability to articulate your subjective definition of “great.”
To get going, here is a list of questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you have a minimum required square footage for the house, both inside and out?
2. How about a minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
3. Is a fenced-in property a necessity?
4. Must the house be pet-friendly?
5. What about a swimming pool, hot tub, tennis courts or even a basketball court on premises—are any or all of these a requirement?
6. Must the house have a movie theater or, at least, a pool table, Ping-Pong table or recreation room?
7. What about your thoughts on proximity to the water and if you want to be waterfront—are you thinking, pond, river, bay or ocean?
8. Should there be a deep-water dock with bulkheading for boating as part of your rental, or do you need a sandy beach to lie upon?
9. Are you particular as to an architectural style and if so, what do you love?
10. Is serene seclusion your vision for your summer paradise or do you see yourself active in a village with access to shops, restaurants and wineries?
Once you can articulate your definition of “great,” it’s imperative to realize that the East End is a massive place. It’s over 30 miles from Westhampton to East Hampton and not much shorter a distance between Riverhead and Orient. The experience of summering on Shelter Island, as opposed to staying in Southampton, is drastically different. The fact is that each community on the East End has its own unique offering of things that are “fabulous” to some and “shortcomings” to others.
So, unless you completely understand each of the villages and hamlets of the East End, the key to securing a great summer rental is to hire a real estate brokerage that has offices throughout the twin forks, who can help you to identify your wants, find a listing and then sign a lease.
The number one most important question to ask is, “does this house require a rental permit and, if so, can I have a copy?” Tenants and landlords in many communities on the East End are subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for occupying a rental without a permit.
Next, make sure to check the local town/village code to know the minimum rental term permitted within its borders (i.e., rentals of 14 days or less are illegal, as transient rentals, in the Town of Southampton). All local codes can be accessed on the website generalcode.com.
Landlords must understand that the definition of “right people” cannot be derived from stereotyping the prospective tenants’ demographic profile. Many landlords are unaware that they have no right to pick a tenant based upon any aspect of the tenant’s profile, which pertains to a protected class. In Suffolk County the protected classes are race, creed, color, sex, gender, disability, religion, familial status, national origin, alienage/citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, source of income and age.
Landlords need to understand that asking questions of a tenant, or even of their own broker, that relate to any of these protected classes can result in the landlord being sued for discrimination. In fact, disallowing children in a rental is a misdemeanor in the State of New York. Therefore, the definition of the “right people” for the summer is only defined by a matrix that works for the landlord in terms of rental payment, security offering and duration of lease. Tenants who think they are being discriminated against can call the Suffolk County Division of Human Rights at 631-853-5480.
Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH, Lieb at Law, P.C. is a contributing writer for Behind the Hedges: Inside Hamptons Real Estate