LANDLORD JAILED FOR INHUMAN CONDITIONS IN BROOKLYN BUILDINGS
Landlord Olufemi Falade has been sentenced to 12 days in jail for civil contempt for failing to repair scores of violations of the Housing Maintenance Code, including immediately hazardous conditions, in his tenants’ apartments. Mr. Falade must report to the Civil Court at 141 Livingston Street in Brooklyn at 10 A.M. on Friday, April 21st to start serving his sentence. The cases involve 367 Tompkins Avenue, 543 Madison Street and 1122 New York Avenue in Brooklyn. There are currently 652 outstanding Housing Maintenance Code violations on the three buildings. Conditions in the buildings that were referenced in court included broken windows, a leaking roof, exposed wiring, vermin, mold, water leaks, peeling plaster and debris.
"Landlords who violate the law will be held accountable," said Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan. “Landlords have a legal obligation to provide safe and decent apartments to their tenants. HPD will sue landlords who flout the law and seek maximum penalties. An owner like Olufemi Falade deserves jail time for letting his tenants suffer through conditions unfit for human habitation."
HPD's Housing Litigation Division, which handles more than 13,000 cases per year to enforce the City's Housing Maintenance Code, prosecuted the case. In early 2005, HPD commenced cases against Mr. Falade seeking correction of violations at 367 Tompkins Avenue, 579-589 Rogers Avenue, 543 Madison Street and 1122 New York Avenue and civil penalties. At that time, there were more than 1,155 violations at these buildings. On April 21, 2005, consent orders were issued directing Mr. Falade to register the buildings, correct the violations at the buildings and to pay $6,000 in civil penalties.
In September 2005, after the buildings had not been registered and most of the violations had not been corrected, HPD filed motions for contempt and additional civil penalties. The cases were prosecuted by William Muniz and Ulysses Moulterie of HPD’s Housing Litigation Division. In February 2006, when the cases were scheduled for trial, Mr. Falade agreed to a finding of civil contempt in each of the proceedings and to pay a total of $50,000 in additional civil penalties. At that time he was given a specified period of time to correct the remaining violations in his buildings.
Since 579-589 Rogers Avenue has subsequently gone into foreclosure and is now in HPD’s Third Party Transfer program, the order no longer applies to that building. The Third Party Transfer program allows the City to convey a tax delinquent residential property to a qualified third party after a Court judgment. Due to his failure to correct the violations at the other buildings within the specified time period Falade has been sentenced to 12 days in jail. He is still under order to correct the violations.
HPD has made emergency repairs to 367 Tompkins Avenue, 543 Madison Street and 1122 New York Avenue. The $25,538 in emergency repair costs incurred by HPD have been billed to Falade and will become a tax lien on the properties if he does not pay.
Mr. Falade is a licensed Real Estate Broker and has an office on the ground floor of his building at 1186 Nostrand Avenue. Ironically, one of the services he advertises is assistance in removing housing code violations.
The last time that a building owner or managing agent received jail time in an HPD prosecuted case in New York City was in August 2005 when building owner John A. Kosman pled guilty to criminal contempt for failing to repair scores of violations at his buildingcriminal contempt for failing to repair scores of violations at his building 117 West 142nd Street in Harlem. On December 23, 2004 litigators for HPD succeeded in getting jail time for Peter Golia, the managing agent of 2649 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Manhattan as a result of dreadful building conditions. On October 28, 2003 another landlord, Norman Beckford, was arrested for contempt after he violated a Court Order by failing to repair hazardous conditions in his tenants’ apartments at 109-63 134th Street, Queens.
HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preervation 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