Monday, November 8, 2010

Fire kills woman in illegally converted house

From SI Live:

The city is charging the owner of the Elm Park home where a 40-year-old woman died in a fire yesterday with illegally converting the property into rental units.

The attic at 219 Morningstar Road, where Dorothy Adonolfi was killed in the early-morning blaze after an electrical heater ignited nearby combustible materials, did not have the appropriate permits, according to the city Department of Buildings.

The second floor was also divided into single room occupancies with a shared, converted bathroom and kitchen, the Department charged, issuing three violations with maximum penalties of between $10,000 and $25,000 each.

Ms. Adonolfi had only moved to the illegally converted attic about a week and a half ago, other tenants said.

The home — where Fire Department officials said no working fire detectors were found — is owned by Rubenia Cortez. She did not return a phone call for comment.

"This home was illegally converted, there were three illegal rooms created on the second floor and one illegal room in the attic," said Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the city Department of Buildings. "Illegal partitions of walls were erected without permits; there were three rooms with locking devices on the doors. There were three different living units, all of which was done without a permit."

A Buildings Department inspector issued violations for occupancy contrary to records, work without a permit and a residence altered occupancy.

A complaint was also filed for illegal electrical wiring, and will be investigated, Sclafani said.

There were no previous complaints or violations on record for the property.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this is another reporting of the resident is dead news story regarding illegally occupied dwellings.

These types of dwellings are only going to increase as home owners look to pay down their mortagages in the face of they or a spouse or both losing their job.

In most cases it is outright overt that a house has been converted or that there is considerably more traffic, garbage,dirty property and parking issues that surround these properties.

The real culprit is the calls made to DOB to investigate and correct an obvious illegal housing situation and don't tenaciously go after the homeowner. Perhaps they don't have the administration (Bloomberg) to back them. Worse, in many cases illegals are residents in these dwellings and the homeowners are basically harboring fugitives?

But at the humane level - people are dying because of the dangerous conversions that have occurred and caused tenants no matter who they are, to die

Anonymous said...

The almighty dollar is to be made at any price...even death. I agree with the above writer when they say that the DOB should be more tenacious. The nonsense of having someone sign off on a complaint, to prove that there is a legality, is ridiculous. Every neighbor knows their area and they are the very ones who call to turn in these SRO's and the complaints fall on deaf ears. Has anyone ever read the comments that inspectors put in writing on their reports. It's really sad. Do they really know what they're supposed to be looking for? I don't think so! Change the law, school the inspectors better and stop the deaths.

Anonymous said...

I have continuously called the DOB about the many illegal conversions on my block. They come, can't gain access and the case is closed. It's so obvious to the neighbors, as there's no parking, the mail carriers, as there are numerous names on the mailbox and the sanitation department, but nothing is ever done. I will continue to call, as I, unlike my neighbors, don't want any fatalities on my conscience.

Anonymous said...

Owners name is "Cortez" ...tells a lot.

Auntie Invasion said...

tell me that the landlord is an illegal immigrant from Ecuador. South American and other immigrant landlords are the worst. They come with an over developed sense of entitlement and no regard for the law.

obviously the place was not heated, so she used an electric heater.

will the illegal boarding house be shut down? a few dollars to the inspector should end that question.

Anonymous said...

We are in a recession and people have no money. They have to make money somehow to pay their mortgages. The Buildings Department need to access these properties and make the illegal apartments safe to live in. The owners should have to pay for any upgrades and pay a higher real estate tax. They also need to report the rental income on their Income Taxes. Money will then be generated and people who live in these places will be safe.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #5, I strongly disagree. If homeowners cannot pay their mortages, they should rethink being homeowners! Single family homes were not designed to hold more than one family, or to undergo structural conversions. When designed, neighborhood blocks were meant to accomodate a certain number of families and cars. Conversions cause a terrible drain on the infrastructure and reduce quality of life. Everything from local schools to electricity to garbage pick up becomes overstretched.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon #6. The big problem is that these people were giving mortgages to begin with, they probably put 0% down as well.

Of course they can't pay their $3,000+ a month mortgages, so they rent out rooms for $500.00 each(that is on the low side).

Figure if they have 4 rooms in an illegal cellar, that is $2,000k a month+ the first and second floor...

I had noise mexicans living across the street from me in Elmhurst for 7 years, music blaring loud at all times, they would come home drunk at 4:00am and be breaking bottles in the street, I saw the cops there about once every 2 weeks, until recently at around 4:00am I heard and saw a cop leave and tell a guy who lived on the 1st floor.."Tell him(landlord)to get them out." thank god, they all moved out.

But the problem is do you really think these people pay their rent every month in an illegal apt? all they have to say is ok, You are breaking the law with having an illegal apt so no rent for you, haha. So now the landlord is backed into a corner, deal with the Buildings dept or a non paying tenant.

Anonymous said...

same thing is going on at 43-39 194 street , 2 family house , rented as rooms , i called the dob a month ago but no 1 has come by yet as u can see here

Anonymous said...

What about small real estate businesses that rent out rooms to people? Why don't they crack down on them? Maspeth is full of people that rent out rooms that are in illegal basements. Go after the real estate people who make commissions on this.

Anonymous said...

It seems everyone is quick to blame the Building Dept.
Not one complaint ever filed for this property and according to some posters, should the DOB begin racial profiling ?
Furthermore what exactly is so "obvious".
The same morons who complain are also guilty of the same thing.
Every neighborhood is guilty from Bay-ridge to Bayside.

Anonymous said...

This city is a cesspool now.


Anonymous said...

I found this on Craigslist, so take it with a grain of salt.

"Illegal Basement Apartment Tennent Removal - $1000 (NY)"

Anyone who has people living in an illegal apartment who are not paying rent and refuse to get out, you are now in luck.

I'll get them out...

I work alone and I work for cash only. No names, no questions...100% money back guarantee. I'll work within a law.

Price starts at $1,000 for single males and $1500 for females, and goes up $750 per female, $500 per male and $250 per child under the age of 12...

These people are using a loophole in the law to bully and extort...until this loophole is fixed let's rock and roll...You own that apartment...Why should you let some freeloader steal it from you? Not on my watch...

Call me Charlie Brown...

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous #5 -- are you willing to pay the the utility companies to fix the infrastructure so these illegal apts can continue to exist. I'm not; I follow the laws and don't think I should have to help those that don't!

Anonymous said...

the DOB should do a sweep of 52nd Drive and 52nd Court bet 73&74th sts. in Maspeth. The illegal landlords can't park in their driveways because then the tenants can't gain access to their apts. They just park over the sidewalk when there are no spots on the street and people have to walk out into the street to get down the block.

Anonymous said...

re:MASPETH ,PARKING ON SIDEWALKS. A) call the local pct. anon. from payphone.

B)call to report illegal apts. and unsafe exit and egress....see "browse the block" for addresses.

good luck...if you do not protect your quality of life with action,no one else not broadcast your good deed...if all citizens did their civic duty ,much of this abuse by our "neighbors" could be stopped.

civic pressure on local politicians sometimes helps.

Anonymous said...

notice how it's always the tenants and never the landlords who die in these firetraps?

how about the IRS and the City dept of finance crack down on the landlords who are illegally renting out rooms?

Anonymous said...

I live right around the corner from this house. Our Civic Assoc. is at wits end: complaints are made over and over and over, yet nothing is ever done: DOB: "address not found"! "cannot gain admittance" Meanwhile, you see families of people rising out of CELLAR apartments (basements can be legal) like moles, taking their kids to school... btw, Albanians are the scariest landlords.