In Southampton, if they want to find out how many people are really living in a house, they raid it.
The officers showed up at 6 a.m. at the four connected apartments on Old Country Road.
...while the Oct. 30 raid may have seemed like an immigration raid to the residents, it turned out to be a building inspection, conducted by code enforcement officers and police officers from the Town of Southampton, which includes Westhampton.
Crackdown on L.I. Landlords Is Criticized as Harassment of Immigrants
And within hours, the occupants of three of the units — more than a dozen people — had packed up and moved out, because they suspected that the inspectors were more interested in their immigration status than in broken smoke detectors and certificates of occupancy, said Mr. Yat, a construction worker who remained, he said, because he and his family are United States citizens.
Several notices of violations were issued to the landlord. The citations and other details of the inspection were posted on the town’s Web site, along with those of other inspections carried out “to identify and crack down on unsafe and overcrowded living conditions within Southampton Town.”
As part of the same crackdown, last August the town board approved a comprehensive rental law intended to stop the crowding of multiple families into single units. The law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, requires landlords to obtain rental permits from the town, for which they must pay a fee, to provide details on each unit and to identify each tenant. Violations carry stiff penalties, including fines of $1,500 to $15,000 and six-month jail sentences for three convictions within 18 months.
The town has long had seasonal rental laws, largely to regulate “party houses” — homes, typically jammed with young renters from Manhattan, that can become noisy public nuisances.
But with an ever-increasing influx of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom live in large numbers in one- and two-family houses, the town’s concerns about overcrowding, especially in the off-season have shifted.