10/7/12

New Local Law Cracks down on Illegal Hotel Conversions

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed City Council Intro 404 into law, enhancing enforcement of the state's 2010 Illegal Hotels Law, which gives residential tenants the right to sue landlords for illegally converting residential units into hotel rooms.

Under the new city law, landlords can be fined up to $25,000 for illegally converting residential units or for repeated violations.

The new law amends the City’s Administrative Code to outlaw converting residential units into hotel rooms -- in a city where residential housing is at a premium -- classifying such illegal conversions as "immediately hazardous violations".

Illegal conversions have wiped out hundreds of affordable residential units across the city and displaced permanent residents from buildings now illegally operating as hotels, lowering the city's tax revenues and compromising its tourist industry.

The marketing of illegally converted hotel rooms has been facilitated by the Internet. Thousands of such rooms are being offered in more than 300 buildings across the city, primarily in Manhattan and North Brooklyn.

Building owners and third parties illegally convert residential units, most of them occupied by rent-regulated and Single Room Occupancy (SRO) tenants, into hotel rooms, so they can charge more money for the rooms than legally allowed.

Permanent residents of illegal hotel conversations have to put up with a lower quality of life and a  building-wide lack of services, their safety compromised by strangers entering and leaving the building at all hours.

Because illegal hotels violate hotel fire and safety standards, they not only put the lives of their legal and illegal occupants at risk, but those of first responders as well.

Tourists -- ignorant of the fire and safety violations -- unknowingly book illegally converted hotel rooms, arriving to find cramped spaces and no amenities.

Their bad experiences in illegal conversions lower New York City’s international reputation as a tourist and business destination.

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