City raids Midwood hell house, evicts one family

Party house: A whole block’s worth of neighbors are united in their hatred of an E. 19th Street home, which has been split amongst three families, whom they say are always partying and — get this — smoking marijuana.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

What a difference a week makes.

The Department of Buildings evicted residents of an illegal Midwood apartment at E. 19th Street during a June 11 raid in which its crack squad of fine-slinging property inspectors, together with an entourage of firefighters, handed out a suite of violations to the offending homeowner.

Block residents have been complaining to the agency about their obnoxious neighbors since 2010 with nothing to show for it. But the day after receiving a call from a reporter for this paper, the city cleared out the illicit basement pad in a raid triggered by a request from the FDNY.

“We sent someone the day after we spoke,” a Department of Buildings spokeswoman said. “There’s a partial vacate issued in the basement for an illegal conversion.”

During the surprise investigation, homeowner Felix Derman, who resides in Florida, was cited for four infractions: two for subdividing the property to create apartments in the basement and a detached garage, and two for setting up gas, water, and waste lines for the apartments without permits. Although both the basement and garage were converted into apartments, the partial vacate order only kicked out the family residing in the basement, according to the spokeswoman.

The city’s findings confirmed what sources had told this paper. Neighbors described the small house as a veritable clown car stuffed with residents.

“They have an illegal apartment in the garage. They have an illegal apartment in the basement. They probably have an illegal apartment in the bathroom,” said Simon Kahn, who lives nearby on E. 18th Street. “There are so many people living there, it’s crazy.”

For neighbors who had purchased homes there thinking it was a quiet block, the raided house served as a constant source of annoyance. The property’s residents were characterized as “coming and going at all hours of the night,” smoking marijuana, and making the outdoor area an unsavory environment for children.

“You wouldn’t want your kids seeing what goes on,” said Yitz Schlanger, who lives next door to the de facto apartment complex. “They swear, they’re loud, and they’ll come at all times during the night. They’re really obnoxious.”

Block residents also complained about the Buildings Department, which had twice sent inspectors following numerous complaints, but issued no violations. The Department of Buildings cited its inability to gain access to the property, according to the agency’s website.

Prior to the raid, Schlanger had called the agency “useless.”

It’s unclear how the city was able to access the property during its most recent, and successful inspection, or what prevented its access during previous attempts.

“They were able to gain access this time,” said an agency spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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