Monday, November 7, 2011
Increase in illegal conversion stings
From the Daily News:
When five people died in two deadly blazes early this year, the Daily News revealed a deadly pattern: city building inspectors investigating complaints of illegal units routinely closed cases after two unsuccessful door knocks.
Mayor Bloomberg ordered an overhaul of the way the city enforces the law, including having uniformed firefighters accompany inspectors when they door-knock suspected firetraps.
In the years leading up to the change, Department of Building inspectors had increasing difficulty gaining access to suspect buildings. Last year the rate reached an all time low of 45%.
Since firefighter started acting as escorts, the rate of success has turned around, with inspectors getting inside 54% of the time - a nine point jump.
That represented a reversal of years of declining rates even as thousands of complaints about illegal apartments continued to roll in every month.
Inspectors also issued violations more often when they got inside - 37% of the time compared to 32% the previous year.
And the city went to court far more often to force landlords to let them in, obtaining special warrants 115 times fiscal 2011. That compares to 67 times the prior year.