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Posted on: October 7, 2020

[ARCHIVED] The Good Neighbor Handbook

Good Neighbor Handbook Image 1

gnh front

Table of Contents


Dear City of Albany Residents:

Kathy M. SheehanWelcome to your City of Albany “Good Neighbor Handbook.” It is designed to provide residents with information and contacts to help you, your neighbors, and your community.

This Handbook provides a range of information, including how to recycle, the responsibilities of tenants and landlords, how to report quality-of-life issues, what permits are needed to upgrade residences, how best to access public safety resources, and who to contact in the City of Albany to get the services you need. These are all areas in which residents and City employees work hand in hand to ensure our City is both safe and attractive.

Being a good neighbor is one of the cornerstones of making sure every Albany neighborhood works. 

Thank you for coming together to create a City we’re all proud to live in.

                                                                                                                              Kind regards,KS - electronic signature

                                                                                                                     Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan

Intro 1Intro 2Intro 3

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?map_geo

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 community 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.

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2. Property Maintenance, Including Trash and Recycling

(For more detail, see DGS's 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 by email or by phone:(518) 434-8886.

SCF 3Where 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 by email or phone (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 by email or by phone at (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 by email or phone at (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 by email or by phone at (518) 407-0309.

Garbage truckWhat 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.

Recycling binDo 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 the DGS website 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 the DGS website.

What do I do with hazardous waste or electronics?Leaf bags

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 the DGS website). 

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 the DGS website 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.

3. Snow Emergencies and Removal

(For more detail, see DGS’s information portal)

snow plowDo I have to clear ice and snow from the sidewalk around my house?

Yes, property owners are responsible for keeping sidewalks and ramps along their property lines clear of snow and ice so that people can safely come and go to services, jobs and schools. According to City Code 323-21, property owners must clear the snow and ice within 24 hours after a snowstorm ends. 

If your sidewalk is not cleared within 24 hours, the Department of General Services can clear the sidewalk. The property owner will be issued a bill for the cost of removal and charged a fine, which if unpaid, will be added to the owner’s tax bill. If you would like to report a concern regarding snow and ice removal, report it through SeeClickFix or call the Department of General Services at (518) 434-CITY (2489).

What should I expect during a Snow Emergency?

When it is snowing, the City’s priority is to keep the driving lanes open for safe passage of emergency vehicles and other traffic. Snow Emergencies are called to remove remaining snow from parking lanes, parking lots and streets. 

When a Snow Emergency is declared it’s announced in the following ways: radio & TV news; message boards & signs placed on City streets; the City’s website and City of Albany social media pages; the Snow Hotline (518) 476-SNOW (7669); or the Nixle app on your smartphone; and

During a snow emergency, normal parking regulations are temporarily suspended. Vehicles must be parked on the even side of the street for the first 24 hours of a Snow Emergency and on the odd side of the street for the second 24 hours. For locations of City parking lots that are made available during a Snow Emergency, visit the Department of General Services’ Snow Emergency page

If your car is parked on the wrong side of the street and towed during a Snow Emergency, call the Albany Police Department at (518) 438-4000 for information. Once the snow emergency is over, all parking regulations go back to normal.

Snow 1 snow 2

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 by email). The Legal Aid Society may also be able to help: 95 Central Avenue/Albany, New York 12206 or (518) 462-6765.

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

                                          Renters Insurance Renters Insurance 2

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 (518) 434-5995 or by email.

5. Building Permits Needed for Construction and City Rehab Funds

When do I need to get a permit?codes

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 (518) 434-5995 or by email 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 Codes 2
    • 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. 
  3. Codes 3Certificate 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.”Codes 4

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, call (518) 434-5265 or email ACDA.

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6. Dog Owner Responsibilities - and Other Animal Issues

Must I clean up after my dog?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?

NipperProof 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?


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 Animal Control. Call the Albany Police Department at (518) 438-4000 if dogs are fighting or being mistreated.   

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 Animal Control

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.

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PeoplePerson walking dogs

7. Public Safety

public safety 1  Public safety 2

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 light 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 streetlightsEngineering 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

View a listing of all City of Albany Departments. (City of Albany offices are generally open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) City of Albany Staff Directory.  

Interested in funds to buy or renovate a home or apartments?

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?

Harold L. Joyce Albany County Office Building 
112 State Street, Room 1200 
(518) 447-7000 

Want to buy an abandoned building? 

69 State Street, 8th floor 
(518) 407-0309

Want to find out about public parking garages, public lots, and metered parking? 

25 Orange St. 
(518) 434-8886 

Interested in how Albany Public Library can empower and enrich your life? 

7 Branches 
(518) 427-4300 

Need a building permit or want to report a code violation? 

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? 

21 Lodge Street 
(518) 434-2532 

Want to learn about or volunteer for cultural events put on by the City? 

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) 

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? 

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? 

24 Eagle St., Room 301 
(518) 434-5049 

Do you have a claim to file with the City of Albany?

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? 

95 Central Avenue/Albany, New York 12206 
(518) 462-6765 
24 Aviation Rd., Suite 101 
Albany, NY 12208 
(518) 435-1770 

Want to invite the Mayor to come to an event? 

City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Room 102 
(518) 434-5100

Is your electricity out or do you have a gas leak?

(800) 642-4272

Want to stay informed about what’s going on and connect to others in your neighborhood and around the City?

Nextdoor app on your smartphone

Want to receive free text and email alerts from the Albany Police Department regarding street closures, snow emergencies, crime prevention and more?

Download the Nixle Alerts app on your smartphone

Need information on a parking ticket?

City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Room 203
(518) 434-5008

Need information about zoning and what you are permitted to do with your property?

200 Henry Johnson Boulevard, Suite 3
(518) 465-6066

Want to report a crime or other public safety issue?

911 (emergency) or (518) 438-4000 (non-emergency)

Want to submit an anonymous crime tip for a cash reward?


Want to find out about recreation programs, summer camps and park usage?

7 Hoffman Avenue
(518) 434-5699

Want to report and track a non-emergency City issue such as a pothole or an overgrown lot?

Go to SeeClickFix or call (518) 434-CITY

Do you have concerns regarding traffic signs, traffic signals, handicapped spots or street markings?

Go to SeeClickFix or call (518) 434-5791

Need to pay your January property tax bill, waste collection fee, parking ticket or other City bills?

City Treasurer
City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Room 109
(518) 434-5042

I’m having a problem with my landlord. Who do I call?

255 Orange St., Albany, NY 12206
Housing Hotline - (518) 436-8997, extension 3

Need a birth or death certificate?

City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Mezzanine Room 254M
(518) 434-5045

Where do I report a water main break or ask questions about my water bill?

(518) 434-5300 (general)
(518) 434-5322 (for emergency flooding, back-ups, sinkholes, and main breaks)

Are you interested in finding a summer or full-time job or exploring where your passion & career meet?

175 Central Ave., 2nd floor
(518) 242-8258