Back to Articles

Two Bills Target Illegal Conversions

New York City Council is currently floating two bills that may drop the hammer on illegal conversions. The first allows circumstantial evidence to be used to issue violations for illegal conversions. The second targets unlicensed professionals doing illegal plumbing and fire safety work.

Section 28-210.1 of the Administrative Code defines illegal conversions in New York City as the conversion of “any dwelling for occupancy by more than the legally authorized number of families.” Intro 0393-2014 intends to add to this 28-210.1 that the Department or any law enforcement entity acting to enforce this section “shall be authorized to issue a summons or notice of violation for a violation of this section based on readily observable circumstantial evidence which evidence may be refuted before a court of competent jurisdiction or before the environmental control board prior to the imposition of a final determination.”

The bill goes on to define circumstantial evidence as a greater number of:

  • mailboxes than legal dwelling units
  • operational facility meters than legal dwelling units
  • doorbells servicing a dwelling than legal dwelling units

Fines for violations are $1000. Balances unpaid after one year can lead to a tax lien and even sale of the property.

Under a new bill, violations for illegal conversions can be issued for extra mailboxes, facility meters or even doorbells.

The second bill, Intro 1218-2016, targets the unlicensed work that allows for illegal conversions. Administrative Code sections 28-408.1 and 28-410.1 already make it illegal to conduct plumbing or fire suppression piping work without a license. Intro 1218 intends to raise the penalties for these offenses by amending Administrative Code section 28-202.1. Work without license penalties would rise to $2500 for the first offense, $5000 for the second, along with a potential fine for each day the respondent does not correct the violation.

Intro 1218 also raises the penalties for major illegal conversions. It states that violations “in any building involving the illegal conversion, maintenance or occupancy of three or more dwelling units than are legally authorized by the certificate of occupancy or if no certificate of occupancy is required as evidenced by official records shall be $15,000 for each dwelling unit beyond the number that are legally authorized.” Illegal conversions of three or more units can also qualify for a tax lien, as newly amended. Intro 1218 goes on to list some acceptable defenses for illegal conversions.

Both bills are currently in committee.

Questions about residential conversions? Have a project that requires code consultation or expediting? Contact us.