How to EFFECTIVELY report buildings code violations in NYC?
April 10, 2015 12:02 PM   Subscribe

A few years ago, my roommate and I were screwed by a dishonest landlord. (So were her previous tenants, we found out later...) Now the apartment we lived in is on the rental market again, but having lived there, I know it's not up to code. I'd really like this landlord to get her just desserts from the NYC housing department. What's the most effective way to make that happen?

Details: The apartment is an illegal conversion in a house. It also contains uninsulated wiring, potentially very dangerous.

It would take a much longer post to describe the troubles we experienced as tenants. Just take my word for it.

I (and others!) tried reporting the conversion (via 311) in the past, but this landlord tends not to answer her phone or her door. I suspect that buildings inspectors have tried to reach her, couldn't, and just closed the complaint.

However, I feel like this is the perfect time to try again, since she will be receiving potential tenants and thus maybe easier to contact. Plus, there are no current tenants who might be screwed in the process, and I might even protect someone else from going through what we did!

Is there anything else I can do, besides calling 311 again?
posted by the_blizz to Law & Government (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Attorney General's office handles a lot of tenant's rights issues. Maybe start there?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seems like the fire department might be interested in uninsulated wiring.
posted by desjardins at 12:17 PM on April 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What about the Unsafe Buildings hotline on the Buildings Department contacts page?
posted by zennie at 1:10 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the AG's office is pretty much the scariest thing on earth for landlords. That's a good place to start, as is the Unsafe Buildings hotline.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2015

If you can, get in touch with the tenant advocate (I'm not sure if you can, though, if you're not a current tenant of the place in question--but it's worth asking). I say this because, when I was in grad school in DC and suffering through the shittiest landlords I'd ever experienced, I got put in touch with the Office of the Tenant Advocate. They didn't solve my housing woes, but they did stick it to the landlord, quite effectively, through a very pointed legal process. It was wonderful.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2015

Best answer: Former NYC'er here -- The Building Department and AG's Office are where it is at. I think you are AMAZING for doing this.

Once your complaint is successfully addessed, you can leave a shitty yelp review under her name + address, but do wait until the complaint is successful. Post under a sock puppet. Please do post, though.

Thank you.
posted by jbenben at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2015

I stuck it to a landlord once by contacting the fire department by letter and outlining the potential risks. They showed up and did a full inspection and cited the landlord for a ton of things. The fire department told me I was risking my life by living there and that I should move, which I did, but they also pushed the landlord hard to fix the problems.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:12 PM on April 10, 2015

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