Owner Fined $2,800 for Illegal Cellar Use

Image Credit: CityLand.

94-36 114 Street in Queens. Image Credit: CityLand.

Owner converted cellar into additional living space for his family. Mana Masih owns a two story residence with a cellar at 94-36 114 Street in Queens. The owner converted the cellar level into an additional dwelling unit with three beds in the hall, a three- piece bathroom, a kitchen with a residential sink and gas stove. On November 17, 2015 an inspector from the Department of Buildings served a notice of violation charging that the building’s certificate of occupancy authorized only a two-family residence with dwelling units on the first and second floors. An additional violation charged that the conversation of the cellar was done without a Buildings permit. The hearing officer found the owner offered insufficient evidence to refute the violations and imposed fines for each violation totaling $2,800.

The owner appealed arguing that the cellar was being used by his own family, not by tenants and that the beds were immediately removed following the violation. The owner added that he applied for a permit to legalize the space, but was delayed due to a mistake in the application. The Environmental Control Board upheld both fines ruling that it was irrelevant that the cellar was being used by the owner’s family, since the certificate of occupancy did not allow for any residential use in the cellar, and that efforts to legalize the space after the violation was issued was no ground to dismiss or reduce the fines.

City v. Man Masih, ECB Appeal No. 16006576 (July 28, 2016). CityAdmin

By: Brian Kaszuba (Brian is the CityLand Editor and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2004).

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