Landlords fight Cortland student housing law

Jerry Ruggiero

The constitutionality of Cortland's student housing law is under fire.

Landlords intend to file a lawsuit Monday to overturn the law governing who can live in the many apartment buildings that surround Cortland State University. Landlord Jerry Ruggiero says among other things, the law's definition of "family" is unconstitutional. "We're not sure of some of the definition of "functional family." Ruggiero explained, "For instance, if a group of people cook together is one of the things in the Cortland law. Who cook's together?"

The definition of "family" according to Cortland's ordinance is:

"(1) one, two or three persons occupying a dwelling; or

(2) four of more as a traditional family or the functional equivalent"

It goes on to explain that a "functional equivalent" means the family's size and appearance resembles a traditional family, they should live and cook together, share expenses and the group is "permanent and stable."

Cortland's Mayor was not available for comment.

The Hill Association supports the law. Spokesperson Abi Cleary says it's intended to address the problems of population density and deterioration of dwellings that rent to students. She says it also holds landlords accountable by requiring they register their properties.Click to read an excerpt from the Cortland Ordinance defining 'family'.