Working-Without-a-Permit Basics: Non-Hazardous Condition

Building Code Section 27-147 says that work permits are required for all building construction or alteration work, foundation or earthwork, demolition or removal work, or plumbing work. But it provides an exception for minor alterations and ordinary repairs.

Working without a permit is one of the top violations issued by DOB inspectors. A working-without-a-permit violation is usually issued either as a result of a complaint, a scheduled inspection for an application, or as part of a review of previously issued violations. This violation is considered a non-hazardous condition, which means that first-time offenders can avoid paying a fine and appearing at an Environmental Control Board (ECB) hearing by correcting the violation and certifying its correction within 35 days of the violation’s issuance date.

But what if you receive a Notice of Violation for a violation the prior owner of your building may have made? If you show the right evidence, you should be able to get the violation dismissed. In various cases involving a prior owner's failure to get a permit for work, the ECB has ruled that the current owner isn't responsible.

To help you contest a violation for work done by a prior owner, without a permit, click here for a model letter to ECB contesting a Work-Without-a-Permit Violation, that you can adapt and use. Your letter should include proof that work was done before you bought the building. To prove this, include two types of documents:

·         One that shows when you bought the building. For example, submit a copy of the closing statement or deed of sale; and

·         One that shows that, as of the date you bought the building, the work done without a permit was already in place. That document, such as an appraisal of the building or a statement describing the building from the real estate agent who brokered the sale, should describe the building (including the work) at the time you bought it.