From Downtown Express:
Fifty residents of 35 Market St., a low-income rental apartment in Chinatown, were locked out of their homes on Wed., July 6, shortly after city officials raided their apartment building.
Eight of the eighteen units in the six-story building were illegally partitioned, according to the NYC Department of Buildings, who, in responding to a 3-1-1 complaint last week, discovered the serious building code violation.
Past and current leaseholders in the building devised a system in which they subdivided apartments to create more bedrooms in order to split up their monthly rent payments. By subletting the extra rooms, the tenants blocked fire escapes that are supposed to serve as emergency exits for everyone in the building, according to Ryan Fitzgibbon, deputy press secretary for the D.O.B.
Last Wednesday afternoon, officials began taping “vacate order” notices onto the doors of the tenants’ apartments, which are separated by narrow hallways. The inspectors proceeded to change the residents’ keys so that they couldn’t return until the vacate orders were lifted.