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City Crackdown Shutters Illegal Hotels

By Julie Shapiro | April 28, 2012 1:52pm

NEW YORK — The city stepped up its crackdown on illegal hotels in 2011, issuing nearly 2,000 violations and shutting down more than 50 buildings with hazardous conditions, officials announced Friday.

The city's Office of Special Enforcement slammed landlords with 1,897 violations in 2011, a 244 percent increase compared to 2010, the city said. Inspectors also vacated 51 buildings for problems including a lack of fire alarms and sprinklers, the city said.

"When residential apartment buildings designated for permanent occupancy are illegally converted into hotels, they create unsafe, hazardous conditions and threaten the character of our neighborhoods," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

"We need to continue to be vigilant in order to tackle the issue of illegal hotels and the serious quality-of-life problems and safety hazards they create."

The city took a tougher line on illegal hotels after a new law went into effect in May 2011 that clarified the definition of a hotel and gave the city more enforcement power, Bloomberg said. Landlords that run illegal hotels now face fines that start at $800 and can exceed $2,0000.

Examples of shuttered hotels include Loftstel at 580 Greene Ave. in Brooklyn, which had 44 guests packed into a three-family home with no fire alarms and inadequate exit routes, the city said.  A representative of Loftstel's Washington, DC location declined to comment.

Other shuttered hotels include one at 2027 First Ave. in East Harlem, which had been illegally converted from apartments into hotel rooms with shared bathrooms; the Eden House at 560 W. 173rd St. in Washington Heights, which had two floors of overcrowded rooms and no fire or sprinkler systems; and 270 E. 7th St. in the East Village, which had hazardous violations including no fire alarm and inadequate exit routes, the city said.

The MacDougal Street Synagogue Hotel at 1374 York Ave.on the Upper East Side was also partially vacated for overcrowding, the city said. The synagogue could not immediately be reached for comment.