All co-op and condominium boards and managing agents must adhere to rules and regulations clearly spelled out in the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Building Code, Electrical Code, Zoning Resolution, New York State Labor Law and New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. Yet, the requirement to adhere does not guarantee compliance, and violations of these regulations are common. Some of the most cited co-op and condominium violations include improper repair to masonry and walls, obstruction to entry and exit ways, working without a permit and failing to comply with elevator inspections.
While most buildings take steps to maintain their property, remain in compliance with these regulations and avoid liability, a part of the building that gets checked can still fail for any number of reasons and officials are keeping a consistently watchful eye, through regular inspections and those that result from complaints called in to 311. If an inspector finds something wrong, a violation is written against the building, even if the fault belongs to an individual unit owner or shareholder.
DOB violations run the gamut from Class 1 (Immediately Hazardous), Class 2 (Major) or Class 3 (Lesser). Some violations are considered minor and “fixable” without fines. However, there are other, more serious violations classified in a particular category and class that do not have a cure process. For example, if a building receives an immediately hazardous (Class 1) violation, it must, as soon as possible, correct the violating condition and submit a Certificate of Correction to the DOB. Failure to correct the violation will result in issuance of an additional violation with a $1,500 civil penalty.
A violation that is not resolved beforehand often ends up before the Environmental Control Board (ECB) on a pre-calendared hearing date. The ECB is an independent administrative tribunal where administrative judges hear cases and determine whether to issue a fine. Thirteen different city agencies, including the DOB, write “quality-of-life” tickets and file them with the ECB to be adjudicated. An ECB decision may be appealed, but the appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days of the original ECB decision.
In many cases, especially during construction, a building or property may receive numerous code violations. Normally, every citation carries a maximum of $10,000 per citation. However, in the case of multiple citations, a lower stipulated penalty offer can be reached through a mediation process.
It is important to note that simply fixing the violating condition does not resolve a DOB violation. Until all fines are paid and a Certificate of Correction approved, the DOB will consider your building’s violation to be outstanding.