Vacant illegal unit added by a previous owner. Buildings charged Jose Hernandez for maintaining an illegally converted third unit in a two-family dwelling. The cellar of Hernandez’s building was converted prior to his ownership into a separate living unit – including a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area with a gas line – in violation of the Administrative Code. At the hearing, Hernandez acknowledged the existence of the third unit, but argued that the unit pre-existed his ownership and, since the unit was vacant and used only for storage, no use violation occurred. Rejecting both arguments, the ALJ fined Hernandez $800 for the illegal conversion and $50 per day for 45 days or until the condition was mitigated.
On appeal, the Environmental Control Board affirmed, ruling that a violation occurred whether or not anyone was living in the unit because the cellar was designed as a separate unit. The Board found that the Code made it a violation to not only add the illegal unit, but to keep it.
NYC v. Hernandez, ECB Appeal No. 41213, June 29, 2004. CITYADMIN