Photo via Twitter/@NYC_Buildings
The Department of Buildings, the Fire Department, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development have launched the “Living Safely” campaign throughout the city to raise awareness of and warn New Yorkers about illegally converted apartments.

New York City is stepping up its efforts to alert residents to the dangers of illegal housing.

The Department of Buildings, the Fire Department, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced on Thursday that they would be running a “Living Safely” campaign throughout the city to raise awareness of and warn New Yorkers about illegally converted apartments.

The three agencies aim to distribute 10,000 flyers containing tips on recognizing and avoiding illegal apartments, as well as their dangers and consequences. The flyers will be available at elected officials’ offices, community boards, and various transportation hubs, including the 74th Street-Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Jackson Heights.

Illegally converted apartments are classified as living spaces that have been modified so that more people can live in them without approval from the Department of Buildings. They usually lack at least two entrances or exits, windows and/or ventilation, and might contain unsafe utilities.

The flyers contain the following 10 safety tips:

  • Avoid apartments priced lower than other apartments in the area.
  • Apartments advertised as being “basement” or “attic” apartments often lack adequate exits.
  • Stay away from apartments that have no windows, or very small windows. These will usually be basement apartments, and are often described as being “sunny.”
  • The word “flex” means that the apartment can be made into a multi-bedroom space with pressurized walls. It is illegal to build any wall without proper permits.
  • A landlord may say “utilities included” to avoid having more names attached to the property, which would indicate that there are more people living there than is allowed.
  • Apartments with “unique” or “interesting” layouts should be avoided.
  • Be careful with landlords who won’t reveal the exact address of the apartment—they may ask to meet a potential renter before giving out an address, in order to avoid fines.
  • Landlords renting out illegal apartments might ask renters to get a post office box rather than having mail delivered to the house.
  • Be wary of landlords who don’t draw up a lease, or ask for payment in cash.
  • Ensure that the apartment has a proper way to get in and out. Tenants should be able to leave the apartment directly or through a public hallway.

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109PCT February 25, 2016 / 02:38PM
I've been on the phone with Dept. Of Buildings reporting my next door neighbors illegal conversion 3 story private house. He advertises rooms for rent in local Flushing laundromats. He has approximately 30 rooms rented at 43-44 164 st., Flushing. Dept. Of Buildings is a joke...they never follow up on my complaints over the past 5 years. There are 3-5 mattresses in front of this home at any given time...9 garbage cans yet still there is over flowing garbage...recently the fire dept was there because one tenant decided he was going to burn his mail in an open sauce pot in his $125 week rented room which was in the middle of the second floor amongst 10 other rented rooms on that floor...yet the problem still exists. It is a major health and safety Hazzard that appears will continue until a catastrophy occurs...do people have to be sacrificed in order to have city agencies to their job? These illegal conversions aka flop houses exist all over Flushing...they are very easy to pinpoint...just watch the traffic in and out all day...I'm sure every neighbor next to one of these illegal hotels has gone through endless hours on the phone with D.O.B. with no results. It's a shame
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maureen mccarthy February 26, 2016 / 03:01AM
I have 10 years of complaints to house at 149-56 Beech Ave Flushing has years of denied access of house. 25 - 30 people live there and the DOB and FDNY been denied access 86 times


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joe December 19, 2015 / 10:53AM
At a quick first glance when you see this article below, you say “wow, the City is finally going to clamp down on this major problem of dangerous illegal conversions”. BUT then you look closer and deeper and that is furthest from the truth. It is just another in a long line of useless city campaigns, that sound good, but actually does absolutely nothing and makes the city held unaccountable or to not do, you know, actual work. Such a campaign is like the useless “Just say no to drugs” campaign by Nancy Reagan or the “If you see something, say something” BS. I see something all the time (just see my blog) and say something all the time to all the powers that be and many times they are ignored unless I stay on it for over a year like the illegal truck driving on residential streets. The problem lies within the city agencies and one of the most inept and corrupt agencies, Department of Buildings. Ever call them on an issue. You will be on the phone for close to an hour being transferred by incompetent city employees who transfer you to the wrong people, who then transfer you back to the first incompetent person who repeats the cycle to other folks, to then find out you have to call back on a Tuesday between the hours of 4pm to 7pm. That actually happened to me when I wanted to get an answer why yet another shit church was being built on a residential street between two houses when it had multiple violations over the years. And in the end, someone comes out, looks at the violation, then states, “no violation at time of inspection” or some other BS. Another case of government NOT doing their job and passing it on to the people. Campaigns do not work. WORK actually WORKS. https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
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