Monday, November 16, 2009

Illegal apartments thrive due to access denied

From the Daily News:

More than 200 properties across the city have 10 or more illegal-conversion complaints since 2005.

If inspectors fail to gain access on the first try, they must go back on a different day. If they fail twice, the case is closed.

In scores of cases, inspectors visited the same building for years without determining if illegal apartments are hidden inside.

Just a sampling:

* Inspectors responding to complaints about a brothel and illegal apartments on 18th Ave. in Brooklyn have visited 22 times without getting in.
* For nine years, inspectors responded to complaints about an illegal day care center with no fire exits in a complex on Ash Ave. in Flushing, Queens. Building officials could never get in.
* Inspectors failed 10 times to get into a basement apartment on Fteley Ave. in the Bronx when a caller warned in January that exits were blocked. "There was a fire there recently and there are small children," the caller said. Inspectors tried twice more and failed. Case closed.

Thwarted inspectors leave a form telling the owner to make an inspection appointment. But in the Alice-in-Wonderland world of code enforcement, there's no penalty for ignoring it.

All over the city, homeowners are partitioning rooms and adding plumbing and kitchens to create off-the-books apartments.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes "access denied" means money changing hands too. When we called numerous city inspectors about "no heat" we were "access denied" even though the tenants were all home.

Landlords also like to disconnect bells so that tenants do not know inspectors are there and then then direct them to their office for pay-offs.

If you are reporting an illegal situation in your building, don't stay in your apartment waiting for the inspector.

Instead, enlist the help of everyone in the building to look for them and then camp out in a location near the front door or prop your doors open so the inspector is not, "denied access."

Anonymous said...

I have seen inspectors make efforts to gain access and observe conditions outside which indicate an illegal conversion and proceed to charge it without access and other inspector to lamely accept no one is answering or no one speaks English who answers.

Friends and Neigbors - call complaints in while these articals or coming out - it provide momentum and pressure for the city to address this issue instead of quietly ignoring it.

Anonymous said...

And a bill cannot be passed to allow the FDNY and Buildings to jointly inspect after proper notification isn't happening because???

Taxpayer said...

Time to demand that your City Council representative submit legislation that requires five actions:
(1) Time lapse from complaint to first inspection may not exceed 3 days.
(2) After access is denied twice, the DOB MUST force its way into the building to inspect. Fine the building owner $1000 for requiring the forced entry.
(3) Require the FDNY to inspect any building where complaints of illegal tenant are made. If illegal tenants are discovered, close the building down. Building may reopen only following a clean bill of health from FDNY and DOB.
(4) Require inspectors to be personally liable for death and injury in a building given a pass.
(5) Inspection may and should occur in the evening and nighttime.

Anonymous said...

The problem with closing the building down is that innocent tenants are forced into the street.

This illegal occupancy problem is one of the most intractable possible because it is a choice between people and firefighters facing life-threatening hellholes or people with limited options being tossed to the curb or re-housed in even worse conditions.

I am at a loss to understand how this is going on when new construction all over the city sits empty.

Anonymous said...

The majority of these tenants are not innocent. In many cases, it's easy to tell if the apartment is a legal rental.

Anonymous said...

So, the rental isn't "legal" but it's all you can afford. Does poverty mean you live in the street?

People don't have any problem eating their meals in restaurants using underpaid busboys and dishwashers or being served by minimum wage clerks in stores.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so that means they should put people in neighboring homes and the firefighters at risk? Duh!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If the owner's premises carries a mortgage...notify their lender...who just might pull the mortgage because it's a violation of their agreement.

It can be easily looked up on line.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me to see how illeagal alliens are clearly being exploited in this country. Everyone either turns a blind eye to them or complains on deaf ears. Between the people who give them jobs and pay them shit while they get rich. And the people who cram them into unsafe housing. How many more people will have to die before our elected officals do something? Taxpayer said was right. We need to send our council members that list. We all need to do it. It's bad enough that troll Bloomberg was re-elected and now he is cutting more services. We need to flood his office too! Get the pens out and voice your concerns.

Babs said...

Tenants that live in illegal basement apartments KNOW they are illegal - sometimes they are without windows or without two exits.

They traditionally pay below the going rate for a studio or one bedroom apartment.

THAT is the one reason why people live in an illegal apartment and why people will continue to live in them. Bottomline - it's cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily, if you lived like that in the 3rd world country you came from, you probably think it's normal to live like that everywhere else as well.

Anonymous said...

Let us not blame the renters. Let get these greedy landlords. Unfortanatley, if these renters have to move or they homeless it is better than seeing them in the on the news being carry out in bodybags due to a fire or explosion. We need to get this landlords, and we must keep complaining to the Building Departments.

Anonymous said...

On 56th Drive there is a large red house that is a legal three, converted into a five. People on our street call it "the Barn". It is owned by the Owner of the real estate agency around the corner. He and his family of course live in a tony suburb in Rockland. He is collecting 5 rents in cash.
The middle floor is cut into 2 apartements. The basement has a tenant and the attic has an apartment.

primadonna said...

"..We need to get this landlords, and we must keep complaining to the Building Departments."

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Don't assume the tenants are all illegal aliens. I volunteer for the Red Cross and the last vacate I went to, the tenants were native to the borough it happened in.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the electrical meters, the cable TV and telephone lines, the doorbells, the white pages listings and the voter registrations, you can find most illegal apartments in no time!

SOPRANO said...

In 8/2006 John Bellantone bought 2045 E. 59 St, Bklyn--a legal two-
family attached brick home. He rented out the 2 legal apts, then demolished the cellar and reconstructed it--kitchen, bathrm, bedrm...ALL DONE WITHOUT PERMITS OR LICENSES! New stove, refrig. & air conditioner were delivered. Only entrance is thru garage in front of home. There are 126(one hundred twenty-six) complaints. Inspectors come & tape LS-4 notices, then leave. Maybe dangerous condition!! Fire? AND he's not paying correct amt of tax; he's cheating Dept of Finance.