Saturday, February 23, 2013

Liu audit finds DOB lax on illegal conversions

From the Daily News:

Years after the city promised to crack down on illegal firetraps, a new audit has found the problem has become much worse in Queens — the borough where the chopped-up apartments are most prevalent.

In a report to be released Friday, Controller John Liu’s auditors charge the city Buildings Department has done a poor job of going after Queens landlords who ignore fire safety rules and divide up apartments to increase profits.

And statistics show this is a citywide trend, with inspectors’ success at gaining access to suspected illegal units diminishing. The rate of gaining access dipped from about 50% in 2010 to 46% last year.

“The Buildings Department is just dysfunctional and incapable of improving itself,” Liu said. “Its inability to perform basic tasks like these bode poorly not just for the department, but for residents and neighborhoods too.”

Liu said the problem got worse since a 2009 audit uncovered lax enforcement: “DOB has made little progress in improving its response to quality-of-life complaints.”

Liu’s auditors found the two-knock rule got much worse in Queens between 2009 and 2011 — the year a fire tore through illegal apartments in a Woodside building, killing one tenant and severely injuring three others.

In a response to Liu’s audit, DOB blamed landlords, who the department said have become “more vigilant in barring DOB inspectors access to their properties.”

Auditors noted that DOB can obtain warrants from a judge to force landlords to open up, and the buildings department did hike the number of warrant requests from 13 in 2008 to 80 in 2011. But that was still only 1.4% of the 5,577 cases where inspectors responding to complaints couldn’t get inside in 2010-11.

In three cases, DOB gave up even after obtaining warrants. Although they can call in cops to enforce the warrant, DOB officials said they chose not to.

Auditors also noted that when DOB was able to gain access and cited a landlord for an illegal unit, the agency inconsistently followed up to see if that apartment was later reoccupied.


Anonymous said...

On my block in North Flushing the DOB got in once on a home with 28 complaints. That's 1/28 or 0.03571% !

Anonymous said...

Keep on raising issues that draw attention away from you being a crook, Mr. Comptroller!

Anonymous said...

can some one detail how to get info. on residential homes work ,that does not require a D.O.B. permit ?

Anonymous said...

When can we expect to see this sleaze bag in prison stripes, already?

Look at his face. He's giving all of us the asshole wink, as usual!

Anonymous said...

The DoB on work requiring permits: Their "consult a registered architect or engineer" is bogus: have THEM make a determination - the minute you consult a professional you can be sure you will need them for filing, and you will be charged (unless you already have a personal relationship with them, and even then...) Your tax dollars -and the whomping fines- support this Agency. Make them do some work.

Anonymous said...

"can some one detail how to get info. on residential homes work ,that does not require a D.O.B. permit ?"

You would need to research the NYC Buildings department website extensively to find out what a homeowner can do without a permit.

For instance, for demolition jobs, a homeowner has to apply for a permit but he or she does not need to hire an architect if it involves demo job on a one, two or three family property as long as you use nonmechanical hand tools. (you do not need to hire an expediter either in this case, but you have to know what you're doing).

For jobs that do not modify, or alter the occupancy/use of your property- you don't need a permit. Examples include painting a room, installing of a 6 foot fence on your property, etc.

On the other hand, dividing up a room in your apartment by building a wall would require one.

Repairing things in your house do not require a permit.

You really need to do research to see what you can do. I am just stating from my own experience what I think you can legally do without applying for a permit at DOB. Hope this helps.