Audit faults Buildings on enforcement procedures

Audit found inadequate follow-up on violations; DOB to implement most, if not all,of Comptroller’s recommendations. City Comptroller William C. Thompson issued an audit report on Buildings’ handling of Building Code and other violations. The audit determined that Buildings’ follow-up efforts on violations were insufficient, not only because of program deficiencies, but also because Buildings lacked the authority to re-inspect flagged sites without a warrant and to compel property owners to remedy violations. As a result, many violations have remained outstanding for extended periods of time.

The audit focused on two of Buildings’ programs, the Certificate of Correction Audit Program, which ensures the integrity of certificates of corrections filed by property owners in response to issued violations, and the Hazardous Re-inspection Program, which ensures that hazardous conditions have been rectified. The audit found that in both programs, inspectors were not able to access properties nor were property owners required to, or had an incentive to, give inspectors access. Also, in cases where the Hazardous Re-inspection inspectors could not access a property, they sometimes failed to leave proper notice asking owners to contact Buildings to arrange an inspection. The Comptroller advised Buildings to ensure that inspectors left the requisite notices, and recommended evening inspections when a daytime attempt proved unsuccessful. In Fiscal Year 2007, the audit found that Buildings failed to inspect one-third of the owner-submitted certificates of correction and 20 percent of the audited properties in the Hazardous Re-inspection program.

The audit made 11 recommendations on how to improve Buildings’ re-inspection programs. Among them, the audit suggested that Buildings deny building permits to owners with outstanding violations. Buildings agreed to work with the Law Department to define its authority to withhold permits, and, if necessary, pursue legislation granting Buildings the authority to deny permits when appropriate.

Follow-up of Violations Issued by Buildings, MG07-125A, NYC Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. (June 23, 2008).

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