FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEQUEENS BUILDING OWNER JAILED FOR CIVIL CONTEMPT OF ORDER TO RESTORE HEAT, HOT WATER AND ELECTRICITY IN TENANT'S APARTMENT HPD gains access to tenant's apartment and restores essential services
March 11, 2003
Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176
Queens Housing Court Judge Gilbert Badillo ordered the incarceration of building owner Henry Davis for contempt of the Court's Order to restore heat, hot water and electricity to his tenant's apartment. City Sheriffs took the landlord to the Brooklyn House of Detention on March 5, 2003. The litigation was brought by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) as a result of tenant complaints.
HPD argued that Mr. Davis deprived his tenant at 90-29 202 Street in Queens of electricity, heat and hot water for months. The Court issued an order for Mr. Davis to restore heat, hot water and electricity in November, 2002 and issued a Warrant for Civil Contempt in January, 2003 due to his lack of compliance.
Mr. Davis claimed that he did not have the funds to comply with the order, but did not substantiate his lack of funds. Therefore, HPD recommended that Mr. Davis be incarcerated until the Order is complied with and that the building owner be brought before the Court in one week on March 12, 2003 for further assessment.
HPD's Emergency Service Bureau (ESB) had attempted to access the premises to restore essential services but was denied access by the owner. Since the incarceration of Mr. Davis, ESB repaired the boiler, supplied fuel, and restored electricity to the tenant's apartment. The cost of the emergency repairs will be billed to the owner and becomes a tax lien on the property if the owner does not pay.
HPD initiated 2,178 heat and hot water cases in fiscal year 2002 to enforce building owners' obligation to provide 24-hour heat whenever the outdoor temperature warrants it and hot water at all times.
"Landlords who continue to violate the law will be brought into court," said HPD Commissioner Jerilyn Perine.
HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. A major responsibility of the agency is to encourage preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards.