Landlord Unable to Cure Illegal Alterations
LVT Number: #24522
DOB issued a violation notice to landlord for failing to comply with a prior vacate order of the cellar and third floors of a one-family dwelling. DOB had issued a prior violation to landlord for illegally converting the building. On reinspection, DOB found that the illegal installation of partition walls, water and waste lines for a bathroom, and a gas line and stove in the building basement remained. The inspector also saw similar installations remaining on the third floor. Landlord claimed that the unpermitted work had been performed by a prior owner and existed when he bought the building in 2004. The ALJ ruled against landlord, finding his proof of a pre-existing condition insufficient. Landlord was fined $52,000. Landlord appealed and won, in part. Landlord submitted copies of 2004 real estate listings for the property that described a bedroom and full bath in the cellar, as well as three bedrooms and a full bath on the third floor. But there was no mention of gas stoves or kitchen sinks in these listings, so landlord presumably added these and failed to prove their pre-existing condition. However, landlord also showed that it had taken legal action to evict tenants of the third and basement floors but, so far, had been unable to remove them. It was therefore impossible for landlord to cure the violation. The fine was reduced to $1,600.