Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fighting illegal conversions a losing battle?

From City Limits:

Nizam Ahmed didn't know his basement unit was illegal back in 2004, when he purchased his two-family apartment building in Ozone Park. "It was nice," recalled Ahmed, a 57-year-old cabdriver. His loan was based on income from three units. Ahmed's family lived in the basement, while he rented the two apartments upstairs. When his second-floor tenant stopped paying rent, he asked her to move, and she reported him to the Buildings Department.

The current system leads to selective enforcement. After city inspectors fined Ahmed $800, he spent another $6,500 on a lawyer. He can't rent the basement unit, and he's now five months behind in his mortgage. He's having trouble getting a loan modification that would help prevent foreclosure. In the meantime, he works double shifts before returning home to his street of two-family homes, many with illegal apartments. "Everybody has a basement rent," he said.

Oh boo hoo. First of all, the pre-purchase inspection and C of O tell you what the home's legal use is. This entire article is written from the perspective of the "poor tenants who can't afford legal apartments" and the "poor landlords who need financial assistance to legalize their units." Here's the reality: The landlords doing this factor in the income from an illegal unit when they are deciding whether or not to buy a house. Then they take out a mortgage that they wouldn't be able to afford without the illegal unit. When they are busted, I feel no sympathy for them.

Illegal apartments bring month-to-month leases, which are usually taken by people who are transient in nature. You'll see new people going in and out of these units all the time and not know who lives on your block anymore. Plus, it diminishes the capacity of the city to provide services that people in the legal units pay for. This brings a block down and is a quality of life issue that goes well beyond "affordable housing." People who invest in one or two-family homes to settle down in have the right to expect that their standard of living will be maintained by their neighbors. But it seems that the ones doing all the illegal stuff are protected by this administration and that is why we see the decline of many formerly wonderful neighborhoods.

Maybe it's time we started reporting illegal conversions to the Dept of Finance and IRS instead of to DOB. Those agencies will be more interested in getting to the bottom of the situation and would be more likely to get landlords to cease and desist renting out illegal units. Hit them where it hurts.

In fact, the DOF suggests you do just that:

Report Tax Evasion and Fraud


Anonymous said...

Looks like 3rd world Calcutta!

If there's a need for affordable housing....then let the city build it!

OR ELSE....require a certain percentage of large scale projects to include an affordable housing segment!

Say....about 20%?

Anonymous said...

If we follow this line of "logic" my need for additional income to care for my family should permit me to rob banks....burglarize homes....steal from church poor boxes, etc. without paying the penalty for my criminality.

Illegal immigrants are lawbreakers by being here illegally....PERIOD!

Providing illegal dwelling space is likewise breaking the law!

We are either a nation of laws or a nation of scofflaws....
DOUBLE PERIOD and no exceptions!

Roger said...

"Illegal apartments bring month-to-month leases." On our block, most of the the single family homes have illegal apartments, and many are rented with one-year leases. Only some are basement apartments.

Anonymous said...

We are "led" in this city by an open,brazen tax cheat, whom the government conspicuously does nothing to address.In fact, he just had the ears of Congress listening to hm, on how to solve the nation's debt crisis. Yet you're SHOCKED when some schmo two-bit operator of a landlord grabs for the gusto by illegally subdividing his house.The fish rots from the head down,my friend!

georgetheatheist said...

Crapper, now you just increased the DOF's workload with the form download. The DOF says that any ongoing investigation is confidential. So how does an informant even know how it's progressing? And shouldn't there be a reward given for any owed money recovered?

Anonymous said...

The fact that Queens political leaders have contempt for the law regarding legal immigration, filters all the way down to contempt for the law when it comes to illegal conversions and deathtraps. It's creeping anarchy.

Anonymous said...

way to go Crapper. This county is chock full of illegal dwellings thanks to the scum from Guyana, India and Pakistan. they are importing third world tactics across the board. and not paying taxes on that income.

the slumlords do no repairs on those basement apartments. don't give heat or hot water. when a tenant asks for these or makes a complaint to HPD what generally happens is a pattern of bullying from the slumlord. they are pretty brazen because this administration backs them up.

Anonymous said...

come to woodside and sunnyside it is getting so bad with all the illegal apartments -- and how people know it it is by all of the garbage that is outside the person's home and the filth around it. try telling the city or your counsel people about this -- they don't want to hear anything that is for sure

Anonymous said...

try telling the city or your counsel people about this -- they don't want to hear anything that is for sure

speak up at a community board meeting - you know that room full of people that meet who are appointed by your politician.

better yet, ask you politician. keep your cell phone on and record the blather.

then send it to ol crappy so we call can share in the fun.

if you can't beat city hall you sure the hell can bean them!

Anonymous said...

The article states that the landlord lived in the basement. The tenant that did not pay rent was on the second floor.

Then there was no illegal renting going on. Why then did the second floor tenant refuse to pay rent on their legal apt? Where not they trying to steal from the land lord?
I think so.

Queens Crapper said...

If you are occupying the building contrary to the C of O, you have an illegal apartment in the building. It doesn't matter if the landlord is collecting rent off the illegal unit. Its presence is a safety issue.

Anonymous said...

Agree - It the only way the landlord can be hurt - in their pocket book. Call the NYC Dept of Taxation and report the owner of evasion of taxes from unreported rent.