KOPPELL OFFICE OBTAINS VACATE ORDER ON BAILEY AVENUE FIRE TRAP
Introduced Legislation to Reduce Illegal Residential Conversions
In response to Council Member Oliver Koppell’s demands, the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a full vacate order for 3835, Bailey Avenue, a single-family home that had been illegally converted. Koppell learned that there had been 14 complaints of illegal conversions at 3835 Bailey Avenue since January, 2010, including one from a neighbor who said that the single-family home had been divided into 10 units. Although HPD had given the owner seven violations for illegally converted units and DOB had issued a partial vacate order, there were still people living in the single-family home under dangerous conditions similar to those that were the cause of recent fires that killed five people at two illegally converted buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn..
On August 31, 2011, the Department of Buildings issued a full vacate order, forcing the residents to evacuate the building. Koppell said, “Although I understand the problem tenants are facing at being dislocated, I am grateful that another potential tragedy has been averted, and my office will do whatever we can to help the residents relocate.”
Legislation to Reduce Illegal Conversions Introduced
Concerned that the Department of Buildings abandoned its attempts to inspect residential buildings where there had been a complaint of illegal conversion after two unsuccessful attempts at entry, Koppell introduced legislation requiring the DOB to obtain a court order to enter and inspect the building to determine whether an illegal conversion has taken place.
Koppell is also the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the DOB or any other law enforcement agency to issue a summons or notice of violation for illegal residential conversions based on readily observable circumstantial evidence, which may include multiple mailboxes, a large number of operational utility meters or multiple doorbells.
“New York City has seen a proliferation of dangerous illegal residential conversions,” Koppell said. “These bills will make it easier for the city to reduce the number of these chopped up units.”