Owner fined $60,800 for hotel use

258 West 97th Street. Image Credit: Google Maps

Upper West Side residential building converted to hotel. On May 29, 2014, a Department of Buildings inspector cited the owner of a residential building, located at 258 West 97th Street, Manhattan, with illegally converting the building into a hotel for temporary lodging. The building was originally divided into apartment units for three or more families to live independently from one another. The owner converted the building into temporary one-room and two-room lodging. The Buildings inspector also charged the owner with a failure to provide legally required exits for each floor and for commercial operations in a residential zone.

At the hearing before OATH, the owner contended that the building’s current certificate of occupancy (CO) authorized the building for transient occupancy as a hotel. The owner also provided tax documents, deeds, utility bills, a Buildings letter, and a document from the fire department that either classified or acknowledged the building in question as a hotel.  Buildings argued that the CO did not authorize the building for transient occupancy. Hearing Officer M. Regenbogen ruled in favor of the owner, and Buildings appealed.

The OATH Appeals Board reversed, ruled that the CO did not authorize transient use, and approved a fine in the amount of $60,800. The Appeals Board ruled that the building’s CO authorized occupancy for “permanent residence purposes of 30 days or more” by the same resident(s) and that the Owner’s unauthorized transient use of the building as a hotel violated the Administrative Code. The Appeals Board granted Buildings’ request for daily penalties and fined the Owner the maximum penalty of $45,000 ($1,000 per day for up to forty-five days of Code violation). In addition, the Appeals Board fined the owner for the additional violations resulting in an overall fine of $60,800.

Department of Buildings v. Terrilee 97th Street, LLC, OATH Hearing Division Appeals Unit, Appeal No. 2000284 (September 10, 2020).

By: Sarah Cobble (Sarah is a former CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)



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