Updating and repairing a house comes with the job of being a homeowner. While some homes undergo massive remodels, others are subject to minor aesthetic alterations. Replacing the existing septic system or hot water heater are not exciting projects, but they may be necessary to keep up with building codes or the basic functioning of the home. Donald Woods is one such homeowner who was required by the town of Southampton, NY to update his home due to an apparent permit that was not acquired in the mid-1960’s when the second story to the home was built. Woods purchased the home in 2003. In order to bring the home up to code, Woods was instructed to install a new and improved septic system that would reduced nitrogen contribution.
Woods paid over $60,000 to install the new system for his 1,700-square foot home, which serves as a rental property. The issue with the septic system and building codes arose in 2017 when the town approached Woods concerning an outdated and invalid certificate of occupancy. Because a building permit was not obtained in the 1960’s, Woods would not be able to reapply for a rental permit. Following the inquiries of a curious neighbor, Woods looked deeper into the alleged permit issue from the 1960’s and discovered that the proper permit was obtained at that time.
Woods took this newly found information to the former chief building inspector, who acknowledged that the town made a mistake in requiring Woods to bring his home up to code. Despite the discovery, Woods earns an income that is well over the limit to receive a rebate for installing the new septic system. There is an additional rebate, however, that involves the town, which Woods is qualified to receive. Woods has filed a lawsuit against the town and is seeking damages in the amount of $80,000, which would cover the cost of installing the new system and the lost revenue he may have earned from his rental property.