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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 23, 2014

Eric Bederman 212-863-5176


BRONX LANDLORD ARRESTED FOR REPEATEDLY FAILING TO FIX HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS AT TWO DISTRESSED BUILDINGS

Mohammed Kayyali Ordered to Pay Civil Penalties and Be Remanded to Jail for Six Months or until Violations Issued by HPD are Corrected

NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been announced that Mr. Mohammed Kayyali, the owner of multifamily residential buildings at 974 Anderson Avenue and 1920 Loring Place South in the Bronx, was arrested on June 9, 2014 after being ordered by the Court to pay civil penalties and serve two jail sentences of up to six month or until the violations are corrected. The six month sentences were handed down in separate cases for each building and are the maximum the Court can impose. The sentences will run concurrently. Mr. Kayyali allowed 974 Anderson Avenue to slide into such a deplorable state that it was placed in HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), an initiative that annually targets the 200 most distressed buildings in the city for remediation. The other building, 1920 Loring Place South, has nearly 200 open housing code violations.

“If you don’t have the desire or capacity to keep your buildings in good repair and honor your legal obligation to provide safe, decent housing to your tenants – don’t be a landlord,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “There is no excuse for the neglect we are seeing in these two buildings, and we will not allow landlords to ignore the law and force their tenants to live in terrible conditions. Targeting our enforcement efforts to help preserve the quality of our housing stock is a key piece of the Mayor’s Housing New York plan, and is critical to stabilizing and strengthening communities. My thanks to the men and women in HPD’s divisions of Housing Litigation, Code Enforcement, Maintenance, and AEP for their dedication to protecting our tenants and neighborhoods.”

“While there are plenty of landlords across this city who do the right thing by their tenants, we know there are select, consistent bad actors that make life hard in a city where finding quality, affordable housing is a challenge. I applaud HPD Commissioner Been’s commitment to using the full weight of HPD’s enforcement powers against building owners who blatantly refuse to follow the law and force tenants to live inf dangerous conditions. This sends a clear message to all landlords that this city will not allow such negligent behavior, and that HPD will serve and protect all tenants and neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader, Chair of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee.

974 Anderson Avenue, a nine-unit property that currently has 144 open housing code violations—or more than 16 per unit—was placed in the fourth round of AEP in 2011. After Mr. Kayyali failed to make repairs to meet the criteria for discharge, HPD issued AEP Orders to Correct, directing him to correct the open violations and replace major building-wide systems to address the underlying conditions which are the cause of many of the violations. The AEP Order to Correct required: replacing the roof, performing pointing and executing an integrated pest management plan. The building has accrued more than $116,446 in emergency repair charges and AEP fees. HPD has repaired the boiler four times and has been supplying the heating fuel as Mr. Kayyali has failed to do so.

Mr. Kayyali failed to fully comply with the AEP Orders. HPD’s Housing Litigation Division (HLD) initiated an enforcement proceeding, and a consent order issued was on April 24, 2012. Mr. Kayyali failed to comply and HPD filed for civil contempt. A March 2013 consent order directed him to correct all outstanding violations, to submit and implement an integrated pest management program, and imposed civil penalties of $75,080.

Mr. Kayyali again failed to carry out the court ordered repairs and HPD moved for civil contempt and other relief in January 2014. After the owner failed to submit any evidence in opposition to HPD’s motion, on May 27, 2014 Housing Court Judge Weissman granted HPD’s motion. The Order, Judgment and Warrant of Arrest imposed civil penalties of $418,200 and a jail term of up to six months or until Mr. Kayyali corrects the violations and complies with the AEP Order to Correct. HPD submitted the warrant of arrest to the Sheriff on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

1920 Loring Place South, an 11-unit property that currently has 199 open housing code violations—or more than 18 per unit. HPD has spent more than $44,700 to perform emergency repairs to address immediately hazardous conditions that Mr. Kayyali failed to address in a timely manner. Last winter, HPD stepped in to provide heating fuel four times because Mr. Kayyali refused to do so.

HPD commenced a Comprehensive Case in Bronx Housing Court in 2013 seeking a court order for Mr. Kayyali to correct all of the violations at the property. On November 26, 2013 the Court issued an order to correct the violations. HPD filed a motion for contempt and additional civil penalties in early 2014 after a re-inspection found that Mr. Kayyali failed to take significant action to correct the litany of violations.

Mr. Kayyali failed to appear at the trial on May 30, 2014 and his attorney failed to present evidence in opposition to HPD’s motion.  Accordingly, Judge Weissman found him to be in contempt of the November 2013 court order. On June 5, 2014 HPD submitted an Order, Judgment and Warrant of Arrest against Mr. Kayyali which was granted by Judge Weissman. The Order imposed civil penalties of $46,750 and a jail term of up to six months or until Mr. Kayyali corrects the violations at 1920 Loring Place South. 

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About The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd  and www.twitter.com/nychousing.

About the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP)
AEP is an initiative to effectively identify and increase the pressure on the owners of some of the City’s most distressed residential buildings to bring the buildings up to code, so that the tenants are not forced to live in substandard and hazardous conditions. The program calls for the designation each year of 200 different multiple dwellings, each to be chosen based on specific criteria set forth in the Safe Housing Law. Landlords with properties selected for the AEP have been put on notice that comprehensive repairs must be made. If those repairs are not initiated HPD is authorized to undertake roof-to-cellar inspections of the building, issue orders to the owner to repair and replace major building systems, and to make the necessary repairs and bill the owner for that work they fail to do it. To date 805 buildings have been successfully stabilized and discharged through the program, and more than $40 million has been recovered in emergency repair and AEP charges, fees and liens.