HPD Violations

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Topic: HPD Violations

DOB April 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm

HPD Violations

I am about to go into contract for a townhouse, but I just discovered that the house has 113 HPD Violations (!).    The sheer amount of violations is unsual (at least to me).  The agent is trying to persuade me that given the violations are HPD and not DOB or CEB, this should not prevent me from getting a mortgage and should be very easy to remove down the line.  The seller is not budging and is selling the house as is.
Any idea of how risky it is get involved with a property that has 113 HPD violations (they are almost equally distributed among A, B and C levels)?  I am not a professional developer or expeditor and I have very limited budget, I dont want to get into a potentially very unpleasant situation.
Any pointers will be appreciated.  Thank you.

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Without knowing the nature of the violations it’s hard to say if you’re walking into a problem. If you have (or the building had) activist tenants it’s easy to rack up a ton of violations without having a “real” problem.

For example, my mother (we’ll call her mama-the-expeditor) insisted on calling every day when there was a problem with the heat or hot water in her building. When an inspector would show up, they would also write a violation for *her* double-cylinder lock. If you look at the HPD page for the building the lock alone is good for about 10 violations.

It’s all about the context. If you want to email me or one of the architects who may respond to this post I am sure we could give you an objective review of the HPD data.

So, do you mean the property has tenants?  We backed out of a coop bid that had over 100 HPD violations because on reading the board notes it became clear that the tenants were the issue not the violations.

Some violations may even be physically cured, but owner never bothered to go through the violation removal process. You can get violations for a lightbulb that’s out, missing signage (lots of signage is required but often missing), items in the hall or fire escapes and lots of other things that would take ten minutes to fix. You need to go over the list.

Is the building rent stabilized or controlled?
Go to http://www.nyc.gov/hpd there you can see the list of violations. Are they old violations? Are they violations that can be easily repaired? Are the violations spread throughout the building, are or they concentrated in one tenants apartment? Is that tenant still in the building. Check the complaints section? Are people still making complaints in the building?
If there is a problem tenant in the building, run don’t walk away. A problem tenant for a non professional landlord is hell. After all of that, if you buy the building, go to 210 Joralemon Street (13 th floor) to see the nice HPD people there. This HPD “voluntary compliance unit” helps landlords who are genuinely trying to remove violations from their buildings. They are really helpful, and do provide worthwhile guidance.

Good advice above.   You need to understand that some tenants use HPD as a club to beat landlords into submission or settle some vendetta.  But also know that if the building has not been maintained over the years these violations could be the result of an inspector coming into the building for some legitimate complaint and then writing up everything they saw while there.  You could recieve a half dozen violations right at the front door… Peephole?  Double cyclinder lockset? Missing Apt number? Self-closing hinges? Proper fire rating?  Cracked door saddle?  Peeling paint? 
When I used to clear violations for landlords we worked off a printout (113 violations was on the high side but not unusual for an old walk-up tenament building with 12 units).   I found HPD easy to work with as long as all the paper work was in order.

well, of course I stop listening to real estate agents when their lips start moving.  you need to do your due diligence on these items, if you’re renovating or planning to do so and won’t have tenants maybe it will be fine.  some good advice here, if you are on a limited budget, why don’t you get the list and go to HPD and ask them?   also, if you are inheriting tenants and suspect one / some may be “professional” tenants, you should tread carefully.  

Do you have a lawyer??  If you don’t, get one.  If you can’t afford one, walk away.

I would be concered that you seem to be focused on the number of violations, rather than what they were for…it would seem to be obvious that that is what matters, if your plan is to fix stuff.  and I would not be buying a townhouse on a very limited budget…there will always be unforseen things that will cost you money to repair.  unless, of course, you are buing a rental property, and intend to continue on in the same manner of nonrepair as the previous owner.  In which case, having had landlords of that ilk before, then shame on you.

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