Town Charges Montauk Homeowners With Excessive Rental Turnover

John Templeman's South Federal Street, Montauk, house as it appears on its Airbnb listing, where it lists for up to $1,600 a night plus fees.

Two Montauk homeowners have been charged with violations of the East Hampton Town Code related to tenant turnover in the houses they rent, which officials acknowledge is a growing problem throughout the town.  

Louis Scagnlli, the owner of 20 Foxboro Road, is accused of "renting out his house to a rotating cast of tenants over successive weekends," according to a press release from the town's Code Enforcement Department. Complaints from nearby residents have been lodged, citing new tenants and excessive vehicles and noise on weekends, the release said. More charges are expected.

John Templeman, a Manhattan attorney and owner of 5 South Federal Street, had advertised his house on several Internet sites, including Airbnb, for fees that ranged from $900 per night to $1,600, with an additional $50 for each guest over 10. The activities at Mr. Templeman's house, which were previously reported in The Star, prompted a longtime resident of the hamlet to create a Facebook page, Montauk Rental Madness.

Mr. Templeman was also charged with pumping pool water into the street. A town official said he also is under investigation with regard to building code violations, such as changing the house's use and converting rooms to bedrooms that exceed the Suffolk County Department of Health Services regulations.

Both men were given appearance tickets and will have to answer the charges in East Hampton Town Justice Court later this month.

"Excessive turnover has been the focus of many of our online complaints and is being vigorously investigated to provide for the quality of life expected in our town," said David Betts, the director of public safety. On Thursday, Mr. Betts said the activities at the two houses were among the most egregious violations of the provisions of the code covering rentals. Regarding Mr. Scagnelli, he said, "I think that when somebody continues to violate the code five and six and seven and eight times - that might be one of the more significant ones."

"Both are absentee people so there's little on-site oversight, if you will, which is always unsettling," he said.

Investigation into the activities at both houses began two months ago, after the town learned what was occurring through its an online complaint form, a new tool, launched in late May. The form has been effective in gathering the evidence needed to take code-breakers to court, Betsy Bambrick, the head of the enforcement department, told the town board just this week

Mr. Betts said that such investigations take time because homeowners would only be breaking the law if they rented out a house for less than two weeks a third time in a six-month period.

The owner of 20 Foxboro Road in Montauk is accused of "renting out his house to a rotating cast of tenants over successive weekends," the town said. T.E. McMorrow