GUEST VIEWPOINT: Going Toe-to-Toe with Irresponsible Landlords

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Going Toe-to-Toe with Irresponsible Landlords
Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

My administration’s brand-new Office of Buildings and Codes (OBC) has been working tirelessly following the official takeover of the Building Department in the Village of Spring Valley on Feb. 14, 2022, a directive from the New York State Department of State following years of code enforcement issues.

Since assuming control, the Rockland County Office of Buildings and Codes has inspected more than 400 properties, written more than 900 violation notices and issued several civil penalties for violating New York State Uniform Codes against:

• Samuel Weiss, Leah Weiss and 6 Yale Drive LLC, property owners of 6 Yale Drive, along with tenant Rabbi Schmuel Neiman in the amount of $6,800.

• Joan Bornstein, property owner of 42 Grove Street, along with tenants Widmax Fils-Aime and Danny King Jr., in the amount of $6,500.

• Devon Johnson & Everette Martin, property owners of 16 N. Main Street, along with tenants Fire Pot Restaurant LLC & Janiel Griffiths, in the amount of $13,750.

• Rony Joseph, property owner of 3 George Street, in the amount of $39,250.

If these fines are not received within 30 days, my administration will take legal action but we’re already expecting the first payment to OBC in mid-June.

Not even four months into this effort a negligent landlord is trying to scapegoat the law, filing a lawsuit against OBC over the administrative court we use to prosecute these cases and determine fines.

OBC is fighting a lawsuit filed by NBM Management, Weinreb Management, Country Village Towers Corp., and Jacob Weinreb, the owners and operators of Country Village Towers in Spring Valley which had 100+ of the most egregious violations discovered at a single property since the effort launched in mid-February.

Back on March 9, a fire broke out inside a seventh-floor apartment in Country Village Towers at 101 Kennedy Drive resulting in multiple people trapped and multiple families displaced. This fire sparked an inspection that resulted in the following violations being discovered inside Country Village Towers:

• No fire extinguishers in hallways (one is required every 75 feet)

• Combustible materials in hallways

• Flammable caulking

• Corroded fire pump

• Exposed wires throughout the building

• Faulty smoke alarms & CO detectors

• Systematic failure of the fire alarm system

• Fire doors not closing properly

• No elevator certificate of inspection

• Black mold in several apartments

• Deteriorating stairways and balconies and

• Numerous illegally converted apartments.

Our administrative court is a legal, well-established, process utilized statewide including in the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Environmental Conservation, and many other state agencies.

This type of court proceeding is preferred because it’s expedited compared to the traditional court system, which when it comes to potential violations putting lives at risk is vital to an effort like this.

Without question, the fire at this apartment complex could have easily taken a turn for the worst, resulting in casualties, and I refuse to back down to a landlord who believes these types of living conditions are acceptable.

Let’s not forget, that some of the violations we are going after at Country Village Towers were first discovered by the Village of Spring Valley in 2019 but never followed up on.

Additionally, this landlord, Jacob Weinreb and Weinreb Management, is at the center of another major lawsuit filed by New York City for 200+ building and fire code violations at 11 properties that include failing to maintain fire escapes, sprinklers and alarm systems.

It is my duty to protect the health and safety of residents, visitors, and first responders and it’s clear that this lawsuit is an attempt to circumvent the legal process at the expense of lives and I won’t stand for it.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher—the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.

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