PARK SLOPE — Mayor Bill de Blasio could face a $500 fine for violating city rules related to his rental property — and he can’t fix the problem until the Buildings Department stops denying his request for a key document.
DNAinfo New York reported on Tuesday that in the past five months, the city DOB has twice rejected the mayor's application for a letter stating that the century-old Park Slope rowhouse he has rented out since 2007 is being used legally.
De Blasio needs the Buildings Department to issue him the document, known as a “letter of no objection,” so he can make the two-family property compliant with the law.
City rules require that the mayor register his property at 384 11th St. with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. HPD confirmed to DNAinfo on Wednesday that de Blasio needs the LNO to complete the registration.
Under city rules, two-family homes that are not occupied by the owners or their relatives and are rented out must be registered with HPD. The rule helps protect tenants' rights, giving them and the city a point of contact in case of an emergency or another problem at a property.
Owners who do not register their properties with HPD face a fine of between $250 and $500, according to the city’s administrative code law.
If the owner is found to have “willfully or recklessly” failed to register with HPD or made false statements on a registration form, he or she could face as much as a year in prison, according to another administrative code law.
Not registering can also end up hurting owners. The law states that until owners register their properties, they cannot file a lawsuit to recoup unpaid rent when a tenant stiffs them.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
De Blasio's property should have been registered for the past seven years, according to records. The New York Post reported in October, while de Blasio was running for mayor, that the house wasn't registered.
HPD told DNAinfo that it contacted the de Blasios after learning of the property's non-compliance. However, the agency said that as a practice it doesn't fine responsible landlords who fail to register when no outstanding violations of housing maintenance code exist. De Blasio's property has never had a complaint or violation, according to the agency.
"It is our understanding that there is a good faith effort being made to resolve the issue so the property can be validly registered," HPD said in a statement.
An LNO acts as substitute for a certificate of occupancy for properties built before 1938. Prior to that year, the city didn’t issue certificates.
When a property owner puts in an LNO application, the DOB will review the paperwork and, if it meets all requirements, the agency will confirm that a property is being used the right way.
De Blasio applied for a LNO with the Buildings Department on Dec. 31, 2013 — the eve of his inauguration — but was rejected because the application was missing documents, records show. The de Blasios applied again on May 6, but were rejected for the same reasons.
DNAinfo.com was unable to confirm which documents were missing.
De Blasio, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and his mother, Maria Wilhelm, bought the 384 11th St. property in 2004 for $612,500. Wilhelm lived in the property until her death in 2007.
Since then, the de Blasios have rented out the units. Their tenants, both past and present, have praised the mayor for being a responsive landlord.
Before becoming mayor, de Blasio held the seat of public advocate, where he started a watch list of the city's worst landlords based on HPD violations.