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How to stop landlord construction, illegal

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How to stop landlord construction, illegal

Postby Foster » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:58 pm

The apartment below us is being gut renovated, almost certainly without permits and using laborers hired on the spot from a restaurant construction in the building adjacent to our building. The started ripping out the floors, ceilings and walls yesterday and our apartment, located directly above the gut reno, was very soon a fog of dust. Everything we own is covered in a thick coating of potentially hazardous dust that we are worried may contain high levels of lead and possibly asbestos. How do we get an immediate stop work order? Any help would be much appreciated.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:13 pm

Call 311 and demand they send an inspector right away. If possible be there to allow the inspector into the building. Take photos and video, document everything. Do not let the LL or agent pay off the inspector or lead them astray.

Also call the DOB BEST Squad:

Buildings Enforcement Safety Team (B.E.S.T.):
One Centre Street, 23rd Floor
Phone: (212) 669-7043
Fax: (212) 669-7054
E-mail: BEST@buildings.nyc.gov
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Postby Foster » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:22 pm

Thank you very much.

We have someone from hazardous materials coming to test the dust also.
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Postby Foster » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:17 pm

311 and DOB is not being very helpful. Complaints logged. Illegal construction continues. Apartment filled with dust again. DOB said inspectors come out when man power is available, no specific dates or times. Will the cops help me out here? I'm afraid the apartment will be completely rebuilt before inspectors get there. Hazardous waste people said they are being very reckless and that the law requires that they tent the entire area.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:56 pm

Did you call the BEST squad? I know 311 is a joke, but it's good to get on record. You can alos call the DOB Commissioner's office at 212-566-3111. You may need to be a pest. They might respond quicker if you emphasize any dangerous conditions.

Bloomberg has essentially told the DOB that they can ignore most complaints, which is why it's difficult. DOB was bad before Bloomberg, but now it's like they don't exist.

Police are supposed to stop illegal construction without permits, but the NYPD is essentially useless.
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Postby HAJ77 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:19 pm

Try calling your city council members office too, while I am not a fan of the city council and find most of them self-serving blowhards, they do like to give the image of helping people and might be able to put some pressure on the DOB to come visit.

We had an incedent with no gas for nearly 2 weeks and HPD not coming out, after we called our council members office HPD was there the next day.
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Postby Foster » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm

I am calling the BEST Squad in the morning and the DOB Commisioner's office.

I was able to take some photos tonight. It's insane what little there is left of anything resembling an apartment: no floor (dirt and rubble foundation only), no walls ceiling or windows.

We had an asbestos and lead hazardous lab guy from the neighborhood come out and test our apartment, the one above and the actual site that used to be an apartment. He is almost certain that the test will come back positive for asbestos. Our neighbors above us have a child and we have a cat...

The construction guys rushed off with all the refuse from the gut reno today. I'm certain they'll be back doing work again tomorrow, putting it back together.

Thanks for all the recommendations so far. I may resort to an attempt with the police tomorrow. I've heard DOB inspectors take 45 days to come.
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Postby 10ants » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:00 pm

Not to rain on your parade, but

a) You don't need permits to do interior demolition/replacement of walls/floors -- you need permits for moving walls, pipes, and electrical

b) Most residential apartment asbestos is found in pipe insulation. It doesn't tend to travel much, and plumbers can legally remove limited amounts of it.

c) Lead dust is only toxic if you eat it. As it is denser, it doesn't tend to go far.

As far as I know, most demolition dust that isn't some 'toxic stew' -- it is a mostly made up of plaster and gypsum.

At this point, they're probably done with demolition (quite possibly legally), and fighting them is likely to just prolong the construction agony.


People have been renovating apartments this way for a hundred years -- I'd chill out a bit.
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Postby Foster » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:16 pm

Thanks for the reply 10ants.

Work Permits for this sort of construction are required. Tenting, poly air locks and negative air fans are also required. Lead paint and asbestos is part of the toxic stew of dust that an apartment renovation of this magnitude is undertaken, especially when plumbing insulation is disturbed, left exposed and no tenting, fans or airlocks have been installed.

Additionally, even without any infractions as far as NYC law goes, were there none, I have legal claims of trespass and nuisance as well as the quiet enjoyment of my leased space. The landlord was notified of my complaints and refused to abate whilst everything I own is covered in potentially toxic dust wherein I am coughing and cannot remain in the space, let alone eat a meal.
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Postby Foster » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:31 pm

A quick review shows permits obtained years ago for far much less renovation - and they got permits then.

For example: ALTERATION TYPE 2 - GEN CONST
REFURBISH EXISTING APTS XX, XX,XX,XX, (and 6 other units). NEW BATHROOM
FIXTURES, KITCHEN FIXTURES & CABINETS, REPAIR FLOORS & WALLS & CEILINGS. NEW
EXTERIOR FURRING AS REQUIRED. NO CHANGE TO USE, EGRESS & OCCUPANCY.

And they have been cited for violations in the past for working without a permit

here's one: WORK W/O PERMIT NOTED : APR XX ON THE 6 FLOOR HAS BEEN UNDER COMPLETERENOVATION : GUTTED, NEW METAL FRAMING AT CEILING & WALLS, NEW SHEETROCK, PLUMBING ELECTRICAL & SIB FLORRING THROUGHOUT WORK APPROX 70% COMP
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:35 pm

Moving/removing/installing walls ... yes, permits are required. Often an "Alt 3," considered minor in the scheme of things, but required. Many LLs ignore the requirement and DOB, under Bloomberg, enforces about zilch.

Asbestos is serious no matter where it is.
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Postby Foster » Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:05 am

My apartment and the door and entry way to the lobby and the door to the unit under construction tested positive for asbestos. We received the results last night, as did our superintendent. How do I stop them from continuing work on the apt and further spreading the asbestos and get them to clean it up properly. These are the kinds of people who will put a mop down and call it good. Tenants are most likely tracking asbestos particles into their own apartments due to the common lobby containing asbestos.

I am on hold with the DEP currently waiting to speak with a supervisor. I had complained about disturbed asbestos on Feb 24. I had called yesterday to check on the status of the complaint and received no updated info.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:09 am

I would say yes, DEP is the place to start. You can try the police if they are actively working, but NYPD is often useless and anti-tenant for this sort of thing.

Asbestos can be dangerous if it becomes airborne. They may need to close off certain areas. LL''s often use unlicensed removers, so even if they appear to start dealing with asbestos, you need to be all over [the situation].
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Postby Foster » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:29 pm

I need direct numbers. Any help?

So much bureaucracy. I need the building shut down as the health of the other residents is at risk also. I have made a complaint with the Dept of Health, but I don't know that my complaint is going to get immediate action.

I spoke with someone at the Bureau of Environmental Compliance and forwarded him the test results. He said that the super and owners have been giving them the run around for 3 days and not allowing access. Also mentioned that there is no real enforcement by his dept and that the Health Dept is the only one to shut the building down. They can only make recommendations.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:35 pm

NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commissioner Emily Lloyd (as of 2008)
718-595-6565

Bureau of Environmental Compliance
(Air, Noise, Asbestos)
Deputy Commissioner - Robert C. Avaltroni, Jr.
718-595-4418

Director, Asbestos Control Program
K. Radhakrishnan
718-595-3721 fax 718-595-3744
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