New York City taking new 'drastic' steps to get landlords to fix violations

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Thursday, February 22, 2024
NYC taking new steps to get landlords to fix violations
Dan Krauth has the investigation.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- When you live in a building and pay rent, you expect it to be safe.

But what happens when you keep noticing safety issues in your building and they don't get fixed? A group of tenants in the Bronx called 7 On Your Side to Investigate.

Some tenants who live at 530 East 169th Street worry not enough is being done to keep them safe. The city now says it's taking "extreme" action.

"I don't feel safe at all," Charlene Banks said.

She has lived inside her Bronx apartment for 17 years and says she's too scared to go onto the balcony.

"I feel scared, all around it's cracking," Banks said. The city already shut down some of the building's balconies over safety concerns.

"Every night, you're going to sleep and hoping your building doesn't collapse," another tenant said.

It's not just their apartments they're concerned about. Tenants pointed out leaks, doors without locks, and cracks in the pillars outside.

"We're really concerned about the cracks in the facade because this is where it begins," Banks said.

7 On Your Side Investigates found the owner hasn't had a facade inspection since 2013 even though it's required every five years. Plus, the building has more than 40 outstanding violations. Department of Building records show it owes the city more than $500,000 in fines. Some of the fines are five years old.

After two weeks of phone calls, emails, and showing up to the building's main office, the building manager and owner have not responded to our requests for comment.

City records show the owner is Fordham Fulton Realty Corporation.

A spokesperson for the NYC Department of Buildings calls the building one of their "extreme" cases where they're taking "drastic steps." They're using a Marshal to help collect fines that are unpaid and working with the Department of Finance to try to get a lien placed on the property.

It happens more than you may think. We found this fiscal year, the city has converted 1,150 building violations to liens and has had to use a marshal to collect fines more than 970 times this year.

The Department of Buildings is now trying to make it easier for the department to place liens in the future to get action.

In a statement, the city stated: "Property owners have the legal responsibility to maintain their buildings. We use every tool at our disposal to ensure owners comply with our safety codes, but in extreme cases like 530 East 169th Street, we take more drastic steps. Our colleagues at the Department of Finance are reviewing this case to potentially place a lien on the building; at the same time, we also think it is now the time to work with our partners in the City Council on more stringent enforcement powers for the Department, including enhanced authority to place liens on the most neglectful property owners that have a significant amount of open building violations and unpaid penalties. Stronger enforcement mechanisms like this could be a powerful incentive for property owners to comply with our regulations, and help promote building safety in our City."

"The tenants have had enough, let's get some work done," Banks said. "We need action."

We found dozens of other buildings that have dozens of open violations and unpaid fines. Altogether, buildings in NYC owe the city more than 800 million dollars.

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NJ Burkett reports.

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