Fines enforced against building owner

280 Mulberry Street. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Tenant advertised apartment for transit use on Airbnb; building owner charged. On May 2, 2019, Building Inspector Botticelli, in response to a complaint, visited 280 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, owned and operated by 280 Mulberry Realty, LLC. Inspector Botticelli was given access to apartment 2E by four guests from France staying there who had gained access to the apartment by making a reservation on from April 26 – May 6, 2019. The tenant of apartment 2E, Alex, had listed the apartment with Airbnb but was not present. Inspector Botticelli, in a test after his visit, made a reservation of his own from May 29th – 30th, 2019. Based on the information, Inspector Botticelli served summonses against 280 Mulberry Realty, charging the illegal conversion of apartment 2E from a permanent residence into a multi-purpose dwelling unit, and for various additional safety violations.

At an OATH hearing, 280 Mulberry Realty did not dispute the apartment’s illegal conversion into a multi-purpose dwelling but asked for the dismissal of the summons relating to safety. 280 Mulberry Realty argued that the building was not subject to the safety requirements because only apartment 2E was illegally converted, and not the entire building. In response, the Department of Buildings asserted that once one apartment is converted, the whole building is subject to the safety requirements.

The Hearings Officer ruled that 280 Mulberry Street was a multi-purpose dwelling but dismissed all safety charges since there was no proof that 280 Mulberry Realty had known or could have known of the illegal usage. The Department of Buildings appealed.

OATH’s Appeals Board reversed and upheld the summons. The Appeals Board ruled that the evidence established that 280 Mulberry Street knew or should have known that apartment 2E had been converted. Because 280 Mulberry Realty could have known, the Appeals Board upheld the safety violations and sustained fines totaling $7,500.

DOB v. 280 Mulberry Realty, OATH Appeals No. 2000612 (August 13, 2020).

By: Steven Nigro

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