Landlord Fined $64,000 for Unlawful Conversion of One-Family Home to SRO Units
LVT Number: 31713
DOB issued eight violation notices to landlord for unlawfully converting a one-family dwelling into a dwelling for nine families. DOB sought per-day penalties for the violations. The notices described various rooms in the house being converted to SRO units with key-locking devices, beds, TVs, and shared kitchen and bathrooms. DOB's inspector saw similar conditions in the attic and cellar. The inspector also observed toiletries, food. and personal items belonging to occupants and met three or four occupants during inspection. Landlord and her brother claimed that the house was occupied only by family members.
The ALJ ruled for landlord and dismissed the violations, finding that DOB hadn't challenged the legal occupancy of the premises as a one-family dwelling. The ALJ also found that the proof presented indicated only that there were Class "A" apartments constructed at the second floor and attic, but that there were no SROs. All of the violations were dismissed.
DOB appealed and won. Landlord had questioned service of the violations notices, but service was proper. Landlord's wife testified that the notices were left in her general vicinity inside the building, so personal service was effected. DOB's evidence also was sufficient to show that the second floor and attic were occupied as SROs and not as Class "A" apartments. The inspector's testimony and photographs showed there were at least three locked rooms at the second floor and three locked rooms at the attic. These units also had indicia of separate living, such as food, toiletries, and personal belongings. DOB showed that the building was occupied by at least four dwelling units above the legally authorized number of units.
OATH added per day penalties for one day for each charge. The total penalty was $64,000.
DOB v. Mangroo: ECB App. No. 2100824 (8/19/21)[5-pg. document]