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Re: Is My Apartment Illegal?: illegal conversion links

Posted by SamE on August 19, 2001 at 22:28:21:

In Reply to: Is My Apartment Illegal? posted by Lou on August 17, 2001 at 20:21:12:

: I live in a 2 family private house in the Bronx. The house was built in 1903 and was later converted into a 2 family dwelling. I live on the 2nd floor, not in the basement or attic or anything, the zoning is OK. But I went to the Dept. of Buildings and they said that there was never a certificate of occupancy filed for my apt. or for the house even though my landlord bought the place and renovated it after 1938, which is when the lady I spoke to at the Dept. of Buildings said the law requiring certificates of occupancy went into effect. Obviously they aren't claiming the rent on their taxes, but does that make this apartment an illegal apartment? I am asking because we (me and the landlord) are not getting along, and I've been looking for a place to go, but he's been threatening to throw me out. I want to know if I can use the "illegal apartment" defense in court if the guy actually evicts me instead of just threatening to. (Hopefully I will find somewhere else to live before it comes to that -- any good leads on apts. are welcome!!)

If the apartment was there before 1938, it is probably legal. More likely, it was made after WWII and is illegal.

Read the link and this:


Date: August 19, 1997

Release #493-97

Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958, Jennifer Chait (21) 788-8479



The first bill before me this afternoon is Introductory Number 959-A, introduced at my request
and at the request of the Queens Borough President, by Council Members Spigner, Marshall,
Freed, Pagan, Sabini, Abel and Stabile. This legislation amends the Administrative Code of the
City of New York in relation to improving enforcement measures against illegal apartment

This bill would provide the Department of Buildings (DOB) and other city agencies with the
additional tools necessary to stop the proliferation of illegal apartment conversions throughout
the City. This legislation would not only make it more difficult for owners to illegally convert a
portion of their home, but would also severely penalize those who take part or assist in the
illegal conversion of a home.

Specifically, Intro. 959-A would substantially increase the civil and criminal penalties, including
the jail term for the most egregious violations, for any person who takes part in the illegal
conversion of a building. The Commissioner of DOB will also have the option of imposing daily
civil penalties upon homeowners. These fines will be levied for each day a violation continues to

This legislation would also subject home improvement businesses to violations for performing or
attempting to perform any work that violates the Building Code and would require the
Department of Consumer Affairs to suspend or revoke the license of any home improvement
business which continues to operate in violation of a DOB stop-work order.

Upon the finding of a violation, the bill further requires the Environmental Control Board to notify
the Internal Revenue Service, New York State Department of Taxation and the New York City
Department of Finance and provide them with information identifying the homeowners and
premises where violations were found.

Finally, with regard to the relocation of displaced tenants of illegally converted homes, the bill
authorizes the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to enter relocation liens
upon homeowners as expenses are incurred and extends the allowable duration of these liens
from three to ten years.

Illegal conversions, by straining municipal services like schools, sanitation, transportation and
infrastructure repair, adversely affect the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods and
diminish the property values of legal homeowners. More importantly, the illegal unlicensed
construction work and overcrowding conditions associated with illegal conversions can and do
result in public safety hazards.

This legislation is the centerpiece of a comprehensive strategy to combat the growing problem
of illegal conversions. The Administration, in conjunction with Borough President Shulman, has
also introduced state legislation that would give DOB broader authority in issuing proper service
of violations, enabling DOB to hold absentee landlords responsible. This bill has recently
passed both houses of the State Legislature and is expected to be signed by the Governor.

Moreover, in March, I provided additional funding and instructed the Commissioner of DOB to
hire nine additional building inspectors. These inspectors are assigned to a quality of life task
force focusing on illegal conversions in the Borough of Queens, where the problem has been
the most prominent. Since March this task force has conducted 3,694 inspections and has
issued 2,095 violations. An additional $895,000 has also been added in the City's recently
adopted FY 98 budget for an additional 20 employees to target illegal conversions.

Clearly, Intro. 959-A along with the state legislation will substantially enhance our efforts to
address this long-standing problem. Not only will DOB be given the tools to take significant and
necessary action, but appropriate criminal and civil penalties will be handed to unscrupulous
landlords, and a real deterrent will be established for those considering illegally converting their

I want to thank Borough President Claire Shulman for her leadership on this matter and for
working with me to craft this legislation. For the reasons previously stated, I will now sign the bill.

more reading:

Dept of Buildings:

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