Illegal sign NOV dismissed

329 Wyckoff Avenue Image: CityLand

Building owner unaware that subtenant erected cash loans advertising sign. Buildings issued four notices of violation charging the owner of 329 Wyckoff Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens with illegally erecting an outdoor advertising sign for cash loans. The owner removed the sign from its building immediately after receiving the NOVs. At a hearing, the building’s property manager claimed that the owner had not authorized the sign, and was unaware that the sign had been installed on the building. The property manager claimed that the building had been subject to a net lease since 1967, which gave the owner no day-to-day control over the property. The net lessee had rented out spaces to various subtenants, and one of these subtenants had erected the sign without authorization


An ALJ sustained the NOVs, finding that a building owner was responsible for the actions of its tenants. The owner appealed to the Environmental Control Board, arguing that it was not acting as an outdoor advertising company because the subtenant erected the sign without the owner’s knowledge or consent.

The Board reversed the ALJ’s decision and dismissed the NOVs. The Board agreed with the ALJ’s finding that a building owner was responsible for any violations on its premises, even if caused by a tenant without the owner’s knowledge. In this case, however, Buildings had cited the owner for violating outdoor advertising regulations. In order for liability to attach under these regulations, Buildings was required to prove that the owner had directly or indirectly made space on its building available for advertising purposes. The Board found that the owner had refuted Buildings’ claim that the owner was acting as an outdoor advertising company. The owner credibly proved that it had no knowledge of and did not authorize installation of the cited sign. As a net lessor, it had no day-to-day control over the premises. The net lessee was permitted to sublet the premises without the owner’s consent, so long as the owner was given a copy of any sublease. Moreover, the violating subtenant’s sublease required it to comply with all applicable rules and ordinances in erecting a sign, in addition to obtaining written approval from the net lessee.

NYC v. 329 Wyckoff Realty LLC, ECB Appeal No. 1001001 (April 28, 2011). CITYADMIN

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