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Landlord fined $85,000 for illegal home conversion

Hefty price: The city’s Department of Buildings issued the homeowner of this two-family house on E. 92nd Street, between between Skidmore Avenue and Schneck Street, with an $85,000 fine in September for subdividing the building illegally into a seven-family home.
Brooklyn Daily
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They’re rooms with a “fine” view.

Officials slapped a Canarsie homeowner with $85,000 worth of fines for illegally converting his two-family house into seven living units, according to a Department of Buildings report.

East 92nd Street resident Israel Fasihusi must pay five $17,000 violations, a court ruled in September, that he received in June after Buildings Department inspectors discovered he turned five rooms in his two-story house into single-occupancy units, and converted his basement garage into a separate apartment.

Fasihusi violated the building’s Certificate of Occupancy, which states the house can accommodate only two families, according to the department.

An agency inspector’s report detailed how Fasihusi added door locks, televisions, a bed, toiletries, and refrigerators to the single-occupancy rooms on the first and second floors, which also shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. He also converted his basement into an apartment, with a bathroom, kitchen, gas stove, sink, and bedroom, the report read.

And Fasihusi isn’t the only one attempting to circumvent zoning in the area, according to the district manager of Community Board 18, who said two-family homes in the panel’s district have become a hotbed for illegally converted spaces, such as garages turned into apartments, in recent years — a problem for both the inhabitants and their neighbors.

“It’s running rampant,” said Dotty Turano. “It’s abusive, it’s dangerous, a fire hazard, and it’s a burden to the community.”

Such conversions also leave tenants of illegal units with few places to turn in disputes with their landlords, Turano said.

“If you rent an illegal apartment, you have no recourse against bad tenants and you can’t get rid of them,” she said.

Last year, Council passed legislation to curb the growing issue that imposes a $15,000 fine for landlords who subdivide three or more units above a building’s certificate of occupancy, and allows the city to put a lien on properties when landlords fail to pay the penalties.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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