NYC Agents Fined for Showing Illegal Apartments

May 6, 2013

The Department of Buildings in New York City announced that it has begun issuing fines to agents and brokers who advertise and show illegal apartments for rent. Traditionally, only the owners of the buildings are held accountable.  

“They are the people in the middle in many cases, the licensed salesperson and the broker,” Robert D. LiMandri, the buildings commissioner, told The New York Times. “They are the enabler. We have to hold them accountable too.”

The fines will be issued to the agents as well as the agents’ companies. Fines start at $3,600, but can go up to five times that amount. 

Earlier this year, inspectors evaluated listing web sites, such as Craigslist, and posed as potential renters to scope out 50 apartments they felt were suspicious. They ended up fining 10 agents for listing apartments that had building code violations. Some apartments were in the basement or the cellar and most did not have the required two means of egress, The New York Times reports. 

The Building Department says the building code gives it the right to issue fines to agents.  The department says that in the future it may go after brokers who supervise the agents too. 

“Brokers do have a responsibility; if they know about something and they fail to act appropriately, they are clearly in violation of their license,” Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, told The New York Times. “The question is, what do they know and how difficult or complex is it to find out that kind of information. It’s clearly not always easy.”

Source: “Fines for Agents Who Show Illegal Dwellings,” The New York Times (April 29, 2013)