News Flash Home
The original item was published from 12/4/2020 12:02:00 PM to 12/4/2020 12:05:00 PM.

News Flash

Home Spotlights

Posted on: October 7, 2020

[ARCHIVED] The Good Neighbor Handbook

Table of Contents


1. Where to Start: SeeClickFix and Search Albanyseeclickfix

Can I report a non-emergency City issue such as a pothole or an overgrown lot without making a phone call?

You can. SeeClickFix is a free and user-friendly mobile app and web tool that allows people to report and track quality-of-life issues and get things fixed where they live or work. Constituents can use it to report non-emergency neighborhood issues such as graffiti, potholes, damaged trees, illegal parking, vacant buildings, and illegal trash. With SeeClickFix, people can map the location of an issue, add video or photos, and include comments. City of Albany staff monitors issues, responds to posts, and addresses problems. The communication between constituents and staff is direct, transparent and trackable. SeeClickFix users can monitor their issue or issues in a specific neighborhood with the neighborhood watch feature from the time they are reported until they are addressed. To use the app, go to SeeClickFix or download the SeeClickFix app on your smartphone iPhone or Android.

Is there a convenient online tool where I can learn about my neighborhood?

There is. Search Albany is a powerful resource to get information about your property and neighborhood. It's an interactive online map that includes web links and data to make it easier to access property information, explore local government, collaborate with partners, and connect with communitymap_geo assets. Search Albany, also known as MapGeo, allows you to click on your property to find out your trash pickup day, access your tax bill, and find the value of your home as well as find contact information for your Common Council Member and Police Neighborhood Engagement Officer. By clicking on the Themes buttons, you can find out more about cultural resources as well as locate historic districts, nearby green space, zoning boundaries, neighborhood associations, and more. As a Google-based map, it also helps you to visualize your neighborhood with a street view, get driving directions, click on bus stops for schedules, and create custom maps to share with others.

front facade

2. Property Maintenance, Including Trash and Recycling

(For more detail, see DGS's new information portal:

How must I maintain my property?

All properties and buildings must be kept free of conditions that are unsightly or unsafe. Each property owner is required to maintain their property to the curb or street, keeping sidewalks and planting strips free of weeds, debris and obstructions. If you are concerned about a property, or an empty lot is overgrown, or there is an accumulation of weeds, trash, debris, junk or animal feces, use SeeClickFix or call the Department of General Services at (518) 434-CITY (2489). If the debris is not considered a health or safety hazard, property owners will be posted and will have five days to clean it up. If the debris is considered a hazard, DGS will clean it up and bill the property owners. For these other public nuisance conditions, contact the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance at (518) 434-5995: • Buildings without proper permits, which must be displayed in windows • Dilapidated signs or structures, including sheds, garages and fences • Signs advertising a business that is no longer there • Major vehicle repair activity, including auto body work, in residential areas • Overcrowding of homes or apartments or illegal units in a home • Construction or power equipment noise before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. • Vehicles stored on property planting strips and in alleys instead of in residents’ off-street parking areas; if vehicles are stored on streets, contact the Albany Parking Authority ( /(518) 434-8886) Where do I report graffiti? Graffiti can be reported through SeeClickFix or DGS at (518) 434-CITY (2489). Where do I report a vacant building? Reporting vacant buildings and their condition in a timely manner is important in preventing properties from deteriorating, which hurts a property and a neighborhood. Report vacant buildings to Sam Wells, the City of Albany Neighborhood Stabilization Coordinator, at or (518) 694-4813 so the City can keep an accurate count of them and pursue issues and policies to decrease their numbers. Report code violations, such as a broken window or staircase, or a hole in a siding or roof, to SeeClickFix or the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance at or (518) 434-5995. If the vacant property is overgrown or has a sidewalk that has not been cleared of snow, contact the Department of General Services at or (518) 434-CITY (2489). If it is clear a vacant building is owned by the Albany County Land Bank (their sign will be on the building), report any code issues, complaints, or interest in purchasing the property to the Land Bank at or (518) 407-0309. What are the rules around trash pickup? Albany’s Department of General Services collects trash weekly, including holidays, from residential dwellings with four or fewer units. All others, including mixed-occupancy buildings, must contract for private collection. Trash should be placed curbside between 4:30 p.m. and midnight the day prior to pickup. Excessive quantities of trash are subject to a bill and a fine. Large household items such as furniture, mattresses and toilets may be placed at the curb in limited quantities. The same is true of a small number of trash bags. If you are placing such items curbside, please notify DGS at (518) 434-CITY (2489) during normal business hours at least 24 hours prior to your collection day. Do I have to separate my recyclables? Residents can put all their recyclables in a single-stream recycling cart or bin that is provided for free by the City. Recyclables are picked up once a week on the same day that trash is picked up. DGS also sponsors paper shredding and book recycling events two times a year. Check for dates and details. What should I do with my yard waste, such as branches, grass and leaves? From spring to fall, Albany residents can place their yard waste curbside in compostable bags. Branches up to four feet long can be placed curbside, but they must be bundled and tied. Albany turns this yard waste in to compost, mulch and woodchips, which are free to Albany residents for use in landscaping or home gardens. For more information, visit What do I do with hazardous waste or electronics? New York State law forbids residents from disposing electronics or hazardous waste in the trash, curbside or in landfills. These include phones, computers, game consoles, TVs, motor oil, light bulbs, batteries, cleaning products, paints, pesticides, and more (for a complete list, visit Electronics and hazardous waste can also be disposed at hazardous waste and electronics drop-off events throughout the year at the Rapp Road Landfill. To participate in these drop-off events, you must pre-register online by visiting or by calling DGS at (518) 434-CITY (2489). Electronics can also be dropped off at DGS at 1 Richard J. Conners Blvd. Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

4. Tenants’ And Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities If tenants have questions about their situation, they should contact the United Tenants of Albany (255 Orange St./Albany, NY 12206/Housing Hotline - (518) 436-8997 extension 3, or The Legal Aid Society may also be able to help: 95 Central Avenue/Albany, New York 12206 or (518) 462-6765. 8   Should I get renters insurance? We highly recommend it. A landlord’s insurance only covers them and their property, not you and your property. Renters insurance works much the same way homeowners insurance does, except it’s tailored to renters. It usually covers: • Personal possessions, such as clothes, furniture, electronics, etc. • Personal liability, in case you are held legally responsible for property damage or an injury • Medical payments if someone (other than a resident) gets hurt in an accident at your apartment • Temporary living expenses if your place is damaged and becomes uninhabitable What is a residential occupancy permit? A residential occupancy permit (ROP) makes sure an apartment is clean and safe. According to City Code, landlords must obtain an ROP and register each of their rental dwelling units on the City of Albany Rental Dwelling Registry. In order to obtain an ROP, the unit must pass an inspection by a City Code Enforcement Officer. As a landlord, how do I make sure I can get an ROP? To pass an inspection, the rental dwelling unit must be in compliance with the NYS Uniform Building Code and the Code of the City of Albany. When making inspections, inspectors usually refer to the Code Enforcement Handbook. The Handbook outlines what will need to be repaired or added to a rental in order to pass an ROP inspection. The most common rental housing violations are: • Defective electrical outlets • Lack of water, including hot water • Lack of adequate heat or ventilation • Infestations, including bedbugs, roaches or rodents • Landlords not making required maintenance repairs • Renters abusing the property with graffiti or through gang activity • Accumulation of moisture or mildew • Overcrowded homes and apartments • Rental properties with poorly maintained yards and landscaping Tenants and landlords who feel that their housing is not meeting minimum standards should attempt to resolve disputes themselves. If this is unsuccessful, either party may report suspected code violations to the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance at or (518) 434-5995.

5. Building Permits Needed for Construction and City Rehab Funds When do I need to get a permit? Building permits from the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance are required so that work done to a property is safe for all involved. Permits are required by New York State Law and the Albany City Code. While we provide some guidelines below, it is impossible to provide a single, simple rule to say when a permit is required. The following list describes when permits are required, but we encourage you to contact the Codes Office at or (518) 434-5995 before beginning work. 1. A Building Permit must be obtained for any alteration to a property, including: • The erection of any new structure, temporary or permanent, including sheds, fences, pools, porches, stairways, and tree houses (permits are not needed for playgrounds on the property of a one- or two-family dwelling); permits for retaining walls are required if over three feet high • Any alteration or repair of load-bearing structural supports • Any alteration to the size, location or accessibility of a home’s entry or exit • Any alteration to fire barriers or firewalls, including drilling through them • An increase or decrease in a structure’s height or area • Any increase or decrease in a building’s frontage • The installation of textile, vinyl or foam plastic wall and/or ceiling coverings in all areas of public assembly • The installation of elevators • The demolition of existing structures • Storing, dispensing, processing, or manufacturing hazardous materials • Installation of a wood stove or gas insert • Installation of awnings or a marquis • Any change to the nature or intensity of a property, such as a new business replacing an old business and a change of use (e.g., changing from a clothing store to a nightclub or from an apartment to an office) • Any exterior work on a property in a Historic District, including painting 2. Mechanical Permits (electric, plumbing, etc.): A permit is required for all work to mechanical systems, including installation or changes to electrical, plumbing, heating, fire suppression systems, fire alarms, elevators, or other mechanical systems. This work can only be performed by a City of Albany licensed plumber or electrician. 10   3. Certificate of Appropriateness/Building Permit: A permit is required for a change in a structure’s appearance that is visible from the street in a Historic District. To determine if a property is in a Historic District, visit Search Albany, click on “Themes” then click on “Cultural Resources,” then turn on button for “Historic Resources.” Are City of Albany funds available to help buy or rehab Albany homes and apartments? Yes, the Albany Community Development Agency (ACDA) has funds to help you buy a home or rehab a property you already own to make them safer and up to Code. ACDA offers a variety of grant and loan opportunities to income-qualified individuals, homeowners and landlords in the City. ACDA can: • Help with a down payment or some closing costs when purchasing a home • Make your home lead safe • Rehab apartments • Fund emergency repairs, including for seniors • Make homes accessible for the disabled For more information, go to the ACDA website at or email or call (518) 434-5265.

6. Dog Owner Responsibilities – and Other Animal Issues Must I clean up after my dog? You must clean up after your dog. Properties where animals are kept must be clean and free of conditions which cause offensive smells (caused by unclean pens or dog runs, the accumulation of animal feces, etc.). Do dogs have to be leashed? Yes. Dogs must be leashed when they are not on the owner’s property unless expressly stated otherwise, such as in a dog park. Even when unleashed, dogs must be under the owner’s immediate control. Are dog licenses required? Every dog kept in New York State for longer than 30 days must be licensed, with limited exceptions (see below). You can get dog licenses at the City Clerk’s Office, Room 202, City Hall, 24 Eagle Street. Licenses are valid for one year and cost a nominal fee. Each dog is issued a metal ID tag. What do I need to get a dog license? • Proof you own the dog is required, usually in the form of a veterinary bill or a medical document • All dogs four months or older must have proof of a rabies vaccination signed by a licensed veterinarian or a certificate stating why the dog’s life would be endangered by the vaccine • The owner also needs a certificate from a veterinarian showing that the dog has been spayed or neutered, unless proof is already on file with the City Clerk • Proof, such as a training certificate, is required to license special dogs (guide dogs, hearing dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, etc.) In these cases, you don’t need a dog license: • Dogs less than four-months old that do not run off the owner’s premises • Dogs used for research, breeding or raised for sale • If a non-resident brings a dog into New York State for less than 30 days and the dog is licensed according to the resident’s state licensing laws Am I responsible for damage done by my dog? Yes. Who should I report mistreatment of dogs or their unruly behavior? The City of Albany’s Animal Control Unit is responsible for responding to complaints in which dogs are unlicensed, barking continuously, off a leash, or biting. You can report these issues by calling (518) 462-7107 or (518) 438-4000 or emailing Call the Albany Police Department at (518) 438-4000 if dogs are fighting or being mistreated. 12   Where do I report dead animals found on public property or wildlife issues? They are reported to the City of Albany’s Animal Control Unit, which will pick up the dead animals found on public property, such as in a park or street. You can reach them at (518) 462-7107 or (518) 438-4000 or by emailing Although Animal Control officers will check out diseased wildlife, they do not have the necessary licenses to trap or remove wildlife. In those cases, contact the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 4 office at (518) 357-2069. Officers also do not handle wildlife pests, such as squirrels in the attic or rabbits in the garden (you can contact pest control companies in such cases). Injured animals should be referred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

7. Public Safety Where do I report a crime or other public safety issue? Everyone can take an active role in keeping their neighborhood safe and peaceful. For emergencies, call 911. For non-emergencies, call the City of Albany Emergency Dispatcher at (518) 438-4000. Please report any disruptions of public peace or violations of public safety, including: • Suspicious persons or vehicles • Property vandalism • Speeding vehicles; dirt bikes and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) on streets • Loud noises or music that can be heard outside the property boundary or vehicle • Unlicensed door-to-door solicitors • The shooting of guns or illegal fireworks • Illegal or unpermitted dumping or burning of trash • Illegal drug activity Who do I call if a traffic light is out or a new traffic sign is needed? If you have concerns about a traffic light, report them on SeeClickFix, or call the City of Albany Emergency Dispatcher at (518) 438-4000 in an emergency or the Traffic Engineering Division at (518) 434-5791. The Traffic Engineering Division – a civilian section of the Albany Police Department – is responsible for the design and maintenance of all traffic control devices. This division oversees traffic engineering design, traffic signals, traffic signs and street markings. They maintain 24,000 traffic signs, 300 traffic signals, and 350 lane miles of pavement markings. If you have concerns about traffic signs call the Traffic Engineering Division at (518) 434-5791. Who should I contact to report an issue with a streetlight? In June 2019, the City of Albany purchased all 10,800 of the streetlights within the City from National Grid, a major cost-saving measure. The new LED lights are more energy efficient and are brighter, increasing visibility and safety. If a light is out, or you have another issue with streetlights, notify the City at the Street Light Service Request link, call (518) 419-9856, or email The new lighting will have technology that will allow the City of Albany to detect outages remotely.

8. A Directory of Albany Services Benefiting Residents

For a listing of all City of Albany Departments visit (City of Albany offices are generally open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) For a City of Albany Staff Directory visit Interested in funds to buy or renovate a home or apartments? Albany Community Development Agency (ACDA) 200 Henry Johnson Boulevard, 2nd floor (518) 434-5265 Want to access health services, find help for seniors or vets, get family assistance, or access services in an emergency? Albany County Harold L. Joyce Albany County Office Building 112 State Street, Room 1200 (518) 447-7000 Want to buy an abandoned building? Albany County Land Bank 69 State Street, 8th floor (518) 407-0309 Want to find out about public parking garages, public lots, and metered parking? Albany Parking Authority (APA) 25 Orange St. (518) 434-8886 Interested in how Albany Public Library can empower and enrich your life? Albany Public Library 7 Branches (518) 427-4300 15   Need a building permit or want to report a code violation? Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance 200 Henry Johnson Boulevard, Suite 1 (518) 434-5995 Where do I report vacant building issues? Sam Wells, City of Albany Neighborhood Stabilization Coordinator (for reporting a vacant building) (518) 694-4813 Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance (for reporting building code violations) (518) 434-5995 Department of General Services (for overgrowth or sidewalk snow removal) (518) 434-CITY (2489) Albany County Land Bank (if ACLB owns it) 69 State St. (518) 407-0309 Interested in commercial development or starting or expanding a business? Capitalize Albany Corporation 21 Lodge Street (518) 434-2532 Want to learn about or volunteer for cultural events put on by the City? Office of Cultural Affairs City Hall, 24 Eagle Street, Room 402 (518) 434-2032 Need to report a fire or a medical emergency? Albany Fire Department & EMS 911 (emergency) or (518) 438-4000 (dispatcher, non-emergency) or (518) 447-7879 (headquarters) 16 Need a marriage or dog license? Want to FOIL a government document or public record? Want to hold an event in a public space, such as in a park or on the street? Office of the City Clerk City Hall, 24 Eagle Street, Room 202 (518) 434-5090 Does your issue involve park maintenance, trees, graffiti, trash, recycling, potholes; street paving, cleaning, or plowing; sidewalk snow & ice removal; leaf bags, or compost pickup? Department of General Services (DGS) 1 Richard J. Conners Blvd. (518) 434-CITY (2489) Want to apply for a City of Albany job or take a Civil Service exam? Human Resources City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Room 301 (518) 434-5049 Do you have a claim to file with the City of Albany? Law Office City Hall, 24 Eagle Street, Room 106 (518) 434-5050 Who do I call if I need legal help, but I don’t have the money to pay for it? The Legal Aid Society 95 Central Avenue/Albany, New York 12206 (518) 462-6765 The Legal Project 24 Aviation Rd., Suite 101 Albany, NY 12208 (518) 435-1770 Want to invite the Mayor to come to an event? Mayor’s Office City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Room 102 (518) 434-5100