Increased Fines For Housing Violators


The Town of North Hempstead is attempting to toughen up on illegal housing, and part of that plan includes raising the fines for violators.
At their meeting on Sept. 29, the board adopted a new fine structure for illegal housing violators, a move that the administration hopes will drive landlords renting illegal apartments out of the area.

“We’ve heard that the fines are not high enough, so those who are profiting [from illegal housing] just pay the fine as part of their business,” said town supervisor Judi Bosworth. “We’re trying to make the fines that much more onerous so it escalates quickly and serves as a deterrent and that it’s not just business as usual.”

Previously, the first offense was a minimum of $1,000 with a maximum of $5,000. That’s going up to a minimum of $2,500 to $10,000. Second-time violators used to pay $5-$10,000; now the fee will be $10-$20,000. Third time offenders used to pay $10-$20,000; now they face a charge of $20-$30,000. All the violations also carry the potential for up to 15 days in jail.

The town also tightened up on their definition of illegal housing, adding several terms to the town code. Among the definitions added were “illegal conversion; “occupying,” and “nonhabitable space.” Councilwoman Viviana Russell said that by clearly defining what illegal housing is, it gives the town a better chance to go after those who are violating the code.

“Overcrowding is a tremendous burden on our system, taxpayers and community as a whole,” Russell said. “This legislation gives the town the ability to expand on our presumptions….and help us in our efforts to go after those who are making money on the backs of our residents and providing a detrimental burden on our communities.”

In a previous interview with The Westbury Times, Bosworth has said that illegal housing is an issue throughout the town, including in Westbury, Herricks and New Hyde Park. The town partnered with the Village of Westbury earlier this year in their enforcement efforts, focusing on educating landlords and realtors on what illegal housing is, and sharing information about illegal housing in both municipalities. And Bosworth noted that it’s important residents speak up when they see violators in their neighborhood.

“If people feel there is illegal housing, it’s important they let us know,” she said. “Our residents are our eyes and ears, they’re the ones who would ascertain more effectively whether they feel there is a situation of illegal housing.”

Russell said that residents can call 311 anonymously to report illegal housing in their neighborhoods.

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