Two landlords hit with big fines for SROs, resi additions

Department of Buildings also strips two architects of filing privileges

New York /
May.May 06, 2021 08:00 AM
 626 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 23-14 96th Street in East Elmhurst (Google Maps)

626 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 23-14 96th Street in East Elmhurst (Google Maps)

Two landlords — one in Brooklyn and the other in Queens — racked up almost $200,000 in fines in March for illegally adding units to their residential properties.

That’s according to a monthly report from the Department of Buildings, which details the agency’s efforts to enforce building codes and safety regulations.

Herman Stark was slapped with $99,750 in penalties for adding six residential units to an illegal two-family home conversion at 626 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, according to the report. Stark did not reply to a request for comment.

Gioacchino Graci was hit with a $91,000 fine for adding seven single-room occupancy units, or SROs, to a two-family home at 23-14 96th Street in East Elmhurst. He could not be reached for comment.

SRO units typically lack a bathroom, kitchen or shower, as their occupants share such facilities with other households — an arrangement outlawed decades ago in New York City. (At least one mayoral candidate — Andrew Yang — has proposed legalizing SROs to help solve the city’s affordable housing crisis.)

Those fines were the largest handed down by the Department of Buildings in March; in total, the department issued more than $1.5 million in penalties. In February, the department fined property owners and builders nearly $2 million.

Illegal building alterations made up the bulk of penalties issued in March, with 64 violations totaling nearly $865,000 in fines. Failure to safeguard construction sites accounted for 41 violations totaling $470,000. Just three violations were issued for illegal transient use of buildings, such as when tenants rent their apartments out for short-term stays, generally on platforms like Airbnb.

The agency also stripped two architects of their ability to certify building plans in March after finding inaccuracies on several applications they submitted. Registered architects Peter Klein and Zarina Kindo will lose that privilege, which is separate from state-issued professional licenses. Kindo voluntarily relinquished her certification, according to the department. Klein said his attorneys were working with the city to resolve the matter.





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