HPD Steps Up Enforcement with Increased Penalties and Fees
Violators will feel the sting of inflation.
In pursuit of public safety, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is responsible for enforcing the law and acting against violators of the housing codes. When a property is not compliant with housing codes, HPD will issue a violation. Violations are either issued by an inspector in response to a complaint, or administratively.
Each HPD violation is issued with a class designation that determines its time frame for correction and its penalty for failing to complete the correction. Also, HPD violations may result in civil penalties imposed by the Housing Court if an owner fails to comply with the violation and certify the correction, or if the owner certifies correction falsely.
As a result of Local Law 71 of 2023, HPD has increased the penalties for many violations issued by the department. Local Law 71 not only increases penalties for HPD violations but also requires HPD to annually identify 100 buildings based on criteria such as the number of hazardous or immediately hazardous violations that have been falsely certified as corrected. We’ll go over the changes to the penalties and fees imposed by Local Law 71 that became effective on Dec. 8, 2023.
Properties are subject to the penalties in the table on p. 5 of our January issue, unless violations are corrected and the corrections are certified to HPD by the dates indicated on the front of the Notice of Violation(s) mailed to the property owner or, in the case of heat and hot water violations, from the date the violation is posted at the building. As of Dec. 8, civil penalties for HPD violations have increased.
Failure to File Property Registration Annually
Local Law 71 also increased penalties for failure to file an Annual Property Registration as required by the housing code for all residential properties with the exception of one- or two-family homes occupied by the owner or the owner’s immediate family. Failure to file may result in penalties:
- Not less than $500 and not more than $1,500 for a multiple dwelling containing five or fewer dwelling units.
- Not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 for a multiple dwelling containing more than five dwelling units.
A person who provides false information on the registration statement is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $750 and not more than $5,000. The department will invalidate any statement that has been found to contain false information. The following are examples of false statements:
- Indicating the building address as the home or office address of an owner or agent, when the individual does not have an office or live at the building premises.
- Listing a superintendent as the managing agent or owner of a building when the individual does not serve that role.
As a reminder, an owner who is required to file a statement of registration who fails to file as required will be denied the right to recover possession of the premises for nonpayment of rent during the period of noncompliance, and will, in the discretion of the court, have to pause proceedings to recover rents during such period. In addition, a non-filing owner won’t be able to certify correction of HPD violations or file for a violation Dismissal Request.
Owners and agents who certify the correction of conditions must do so only after conditions are corrected properly. Except for lead-based paint violations, properly certified violations are deemed “complied” and closed 70 days from the date of the receipt of the certification unless the department has determined by a re-inspection made within such period that the violation still hasn’t been corrected.
Local Law 71 also increased penalties for a person making a false certification of correction of a violation:
- For each non-hazardous violation falsely certified, not less than $50 or more than $250;
- For each hazardous violation falsely certified, not less than $250 or more than $500; and
- For each immediately hazardous violation falsely certified, not less than $500 or more than $1,000.
In addition, false certifications may result in future certifications not being deemed complied without an inspection attempt beginning in January 2025 for buildings that have a significant number of false certifications in 2024. As a result of Local Law 71, by Jan. 15, 2025, and each calendar year thereafter, HPD must compile and post on its website a list of 100 multiple dwellings for which it has determined that more than 20 hazardous violations or immediately hazardous violations have been certified as corrected during the previous calendar year and at least four of such violations that have been certified as corrected were falsely certified as corrected.
For the buildings on this list, hazardous or immediately hazardous violations issued to them would not be deemed corrected unless HPD has attempted at least two re-inspections, or those violations are excluded from the calculation for identifying the 100 buildings.